New OFCCP Disability Data Collection Regulations for Federal Contractors | DCR Workforce Blog

New OFCCP Disability Data Collection Regulations for Federal Contractors

OFCCPThe 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:

  • The definition of ‘disability’ under the OFCCP’s regulations is the same as defined by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008) and the ADAAA (ADA Amendments Act) – bringing a uniformity to it under the employment laws. Discrimination against disability using non-job related standards, or refusal to offer reasonable accommodation, are to be avoided by the federal contractor.
  • A conspicuous notice must be made accessible to all employees and applicants advising them of the federal contractor’s obligation to avoid disparate treatment and offer affirmative action and support. The notice must be available in larger print or Braille, and at an eye level for persons in wheel chairs. The new regulations allow this notice to be in the form of electronic notices for employees who do not work at a physical location.  It must also be available electronically (on the intranet or by email) as a part of an electronic job application process.
  • Job openings (whether full time, part time lasting more than 3 days, or temporary positions) are to follow the format prescribed by the state and local employment service delivery systems (ESDS) to ensure that a protected veteran is treated as a priority referral for any vacancy. Contractors must invite all employees and applicants to voluntarily self-identify as protected veterans or disabled during the recruitment stage or the post-offer stage. The invitation is to be repeated every five years. The OFCCP has issued an electronic version of the self-identification form.
  • The OFCCP also offers to link federal contractors with organizations which can help to recruit qualified veterans and disabled individuals. Representative groups include the Department of Veterans Affairs, local disability groups, veteran counselors and coordinators, and state vocational rehabilitation service agencies. While it is not mandatory for the contractor to use these links, they will need to record the recruitment efforts made by them to meet their utilization goal to employ suitable veterans and disabled persons. The contractors will also need to annually review and assess their recruitment efforts and affirm their effectiveness – and retain an auditable record of them for 3 years.

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.


Disclaimer:
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.