The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has recently overhauled regulations regarding the obligations of federal contractors (and their subcontractors) to employees and applicants who are veterans and individuals with disabilities. Contractors will now have to establish an Affirmative Action Plan and measure their performance against benchmarks for hiring veterans and people with disabilities. Building upon Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 and the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2002, the revised regulations establish specific, measurable goals for hiring individuals in these protected classes. These new regulations will be coming into effect on 24th March, 2014; which is almost upon us.
The regulations specify a seven per cent utilization goal for disabled persons and eight per cent utilization goal for protected veterans. The definition of disability is also modified and new regulations govern electronic posting requirements, self-identification and data collection:
These regulations apply to federal contractors with contracts in excess of $10,000 or 50 plus employees. Regulations will govern both federal contracts and their sub-contractors.
Under their Affirmative Action plan, contractors commit to prohibit all types of harassment, threats, and coercion against the disabled persons and protected veterans. They also need to ensure that their employment practices will be offered to such employees without disparate treatment. By maintaining detailed records, the federal contractor can continuously improve the program while Federal regulators can verify that the contractor’s Affirmative Action Program is being run effectively.
We anticipate that most federal contractors will welcome this clarification, as it removes any subjectivity involved in the determination of whether they are doing enough to be fully compliant will all government regulations. Companies can now implement successful programs with clear metrics for utilization of protected veterans and disabled workers.
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