Government Issues New Rules to Boost Hiring of Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities – 7 Things All Federal Contractors Must Do

“Prior to the effective date, Contractors should undertake a comprehensive review of their policies, procedures and plans to identify the modifications they will need to make to comply with the new regulations.” (Proskauer)

In late August, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued new rules intended to increase employment of veterans and individuals with disabilities at federal contractors and subcontractors.

The regulations, which go into effect on February 25, 2014, impose a number of new hiring and recordkeeping obligations on contractors. Here are seven:

1. Establish benchmarks for hiring veterans:

“The VEVRAA regulations, much like the Section 503 regulations, impose significant new requirements on government contractors, including … [e]stablish hiring ‘benchmarks’ for protected veterans using one of two possible calculations – either a benchmark equal to the national percentage of veterans in the civilian workforce, currently at 8%, or a benchmark using data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, other data published by the OFCCP, and other factors unique to the contractor’s hiring circumstances.” (K&L Gates LLP)

2. Set – and meet – a 7% utilization goal for employees with disabilities:

“Contractors must apply a 7 percent utilization goal for qualified individuals with disabilities – a very specific compliance goal. Contractors must conduct an annual utilization analysis and implement processes to address any compliance problems.” (XpertHR)

3. Ask job applicants about veteran and disability status:

“… the final regulations will require contractors to solicit protected veteran and disability status information at the applicant stage. The scope of the obligation will be the same as the existing applicant solicitation obligations for gender and race/ethnicity information. That is, contractors will be required to, at a minimum, solicit every candidate that meets the OFCCP’s four-prong Internet Applicant definition to voluntarily self-identify as a protected veteran and/or an individual with a disability. With regard to the veteran self-identification form used at the applicant stage, the OFCCP allows contractors to define the four ‘protected’ veteran categories and then have each applicant self-identify simply as a ‘protected veteran.’” (Littler)

4. Update your recordkeeping procedures:

“… contractors must now document and annually update several quantitative comparisons concerning the number of veterans and individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and the number of veterans and individuals with disabilities who are actually hired. Such data must be maintained for three years.” (McNees Wallace & Nurick)

5. Conduct annual compliance audits:

“With respect to hiring, contractors must undertake annual reviews of their outreach and recruitment efforts over the previous 12 months to evaluate their effectiveness in identifying and recruiting qualified individuals with disabilities. The review must be documented and contain a description of the criteria used to evaluate the effectiveness of each effort and an evaluation and conclusion as to whether each effort was effective. If the contractor concludes the totality of its efforts were not effective in identifying and recruiting qualified individuals with disabilities, the contractor is to identify and implement specific actions that are listed in the regulations.” (Patton Boggs)

6. Open your records to the OFCCP:

“The Final Rules clarify that contractors must allow OFCCP to review documents related to a compliance check or focused review, either on-site or off-site, at OFCCP’s option. In addition, the Final Rule requires contractors, upon request, to inform OFCCP of all formats in which it maintains its records and provide them to OFCCP in whichever of those formats OFCCP requests.” (Pierce Atwood)

7. Train your employees on the new rules:

“The regulations require a contractor to undertake various means of disseminating its affirmative action policy through a ‘strong outreach program.’ Required measures include placing the policy in the contractor’s policy manual or otherwise making it available to employees; notifying union officials of the policy and seeking their cooperation; and disseminating the policy internally. Internal dissemination means using such measures as special meetings with employees and management personnel, media publicity, employee orientation, and company publications in which individuals with disabilities are portrayed. Contractors must develop ‘internal procedures’ to comply with these dissemination obligations.” (Ballard Spahr)

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