The OFFCP’s final rules took effect on March 24, 2014. The previously issued Final Rules expanding Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 503) and the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) are aimed to improve hiring and employment opportunities for disabled and veteran workers. The Final Rules also impose numerous new affirmative action obligations on federal contractors or subcontractors covered by Executive Order 11246.
The OFCCP has implemented a phased-in approach to compliance with the new regulations. Thus, any contractor with an affirmative action plan (AAP) already in place may maintain that AAP until the end of the AAP year. The Section 503 and VEVRAA final rules present contractors with many new challenges and pitfalls to affirmative action compliance.
Hiring of Disabled and Covered Veteran Applicants. The Final Rules require that contractors set a goal of having individuals with disabilities comprise 7% of their workforce for each job group. The Final Rules also create hiring benchmarks for protected veterans. Each contractor must develop its benchmark by either: (i) adopting the 8% national veteran hiring percentage published by OFCCP; or (ii) calculate its own veteran hiring benchmark using relevant state-specific data published by OFCCP coupled with the contractor’s own applicant, hiring and recruiting experience.
Applicant Flow Data. Effective March 24, 2014, or the first day of the next-new AAP year, contractors must attain and maintain applicant flow data regarding individuals with disabilities and covered veterans. Accordingly, contractors must invite individuals to self-identify, both pre and post‑employment.
- Section 503 provides required language that contractors must use when inviting individuals with disabilities to self-identify. Thus, only the pre-approved OMB form should be used.
- The new VEVRAA regulations provide recommended language for contractors to use when inviting individuals to self-identify covered veteran status.
- Additionally, contractors must invite current employees to self-identify their disability status within one year and update their status every five years.
The collection of applicant flow data regarding individuals with disabilities and covered veterans, are similar to the requirements already imposed on contractors for gender and race data.
Laconic Lesson: Covered employers now have greater accountability and reporting requirements. The Frequently Asked Questions for Section 503 New Rules is a good source for the most current information on implementation.