On Sept. 24, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published two new rules in the Federal Register, requiring contractors and subcontractors on federal construction projects to take steps to improve hiring of veterans and individuals with disabilities. Both rules will take effect on March 14, 2014.
One rule updates the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against protected veterans, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these veterans. VEVRAA protects disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, active duty wartime or campaign badge veterans, and Armed Forces service medal veterans. The VEVRAA rule requires contractors and subcontractors to:
• Use one of two methods to establish annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans.
• Maintain records related to their benchmark for three years, allowing them to assess success of their outreach and recruitment for veterans over time.
• Invite applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran prior to making a job offer, in addition to the post-offer self-identification that is already required.
• State in its solicitations and advertisements that it is an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans.
OFCCP has prepared numerous resources on compliance with the new VEVRAA rule.
The second rule makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals. The 503 rule requires contractors and subcontractors to:
• Apply a new 7 percent goal to either their job groups or entire work force, depending on their size.
• Collect and analyze data with respect to applicants and hires of individuals with disabilities.
• Invite employees to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with disabilities.
The new rule also permits contractors to invite applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability at the same time the contractor collects other demographic data from job applicants. OFCCP also has prepared numerous resources on compliance with the new 503 rule.