Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Must Implement New Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Practices

Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Must Implement New Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Practices

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Because of new regulations issued by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, covered federal contractors and subcontractors must implement significant changes in the implementation and management of their Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action Programs (AAP). The regulations will become effective on March 24, 2014. 
 
The two Federal Register notices and detailed regulations can be found here

The following summarizes the major changes resulting from each of the two new rules: 
 
Re: Individuals with Disabilities (Section 503)

  • Must invite each applicant to self-identify as an individual with a disability (or with a previous disability) at the pre-offer stage, using the OFCCP’s mandatory form (in addition to the current requirement to invite new hires to self-identify post-offer/pre-employment). This information must be kept in a confidential data analysis file separate from personnel files. 
  • Must re-survey all employees regarding disabilities in the first year of implementation and thereafter every five years, with at least one interim reminder, using the new self-identification form.
  • Established 7% utilization goal for the representation of individuals with disabilities in each affirmative action job group (by AAP location).
  • Required increased outreach efforts for individuals with disabilities, with annual reporting of all efforts and evaluation of the effectiveness of those efforts.
  • Required tracking, reporting and analysis of placement activity of known individuals with disabilities. 
  • Increased records retention requirement of three years for outreach efforts and the above reporting and supporting documentation.
  • Required revised EEO tagline on all employment postings to include efforts to recruit and advance individuals with disabilities.
  • Increased internal and external dissemination of affirmative action obligations, to include enhanced annual policy statement referencing top executive’s support of the company’s affirmative action program.
  • Required revised Equal Opportunity clause to be included in all covered subcontracts and purchase orders.
  • Mandatory notice to covered subcontractors and vendors of affirmative action policy. 

Re: Protected Veterans (VEVRAA)

  • Must invite each applicant to self-identify as a protected veteran (no specific category) at the pre-offer stage (in addition to the current requirement to invite new hires to self-identify post-offer/pre-employment). This can be at the same time they are invited to identify as to race/ethnicity and gender. 
  • Established hiring benchmark of 8% (or more appropriate benchmark determined by company using specified criteria) for protected veterans for each AAP location.
  • Required increased outreach efforts for protected veterans with an annual evaluation of the effectiveness of the efforts.
  • Required tracking, reporting and analysis of placement activity for known protected veterans. 
  • Increased records retention requirement of three years for outreach efforts and the above reporting and supporting documentation.
  • Creates enhanced job listing requirement with state employment service delivery system (ESDS), including reporting requirements to agency for each hiring location.  
  • Increased internal and external dissemination of affirmative action obligations for protected veterans, to include enhanced annual policy statement referencing top executive’s support of the company’s affirmative action program.
  • Required revised EEO tagline on employment postings to include “protected veteran status.”
  • Required revised Equal Opportunity clause to be included in all covered sub-contracts and purchase orders.
  • Mandatory notice to covered subcontractors and vendors of affirmative action policy.
  • Required inclusion of  “VEVRAA Federal Contractor” on state ESDS job listings.

Compliance with some of the new requirements (Subparts A, B, D and E of the new rules) must be attained by the March 24, 2014 effective date. Other new implementation activities (those specified in Subpart C of both regulations) will not be required until the start of a contractor’s or subcontractor’s next affirmative action program year. For example, if your company’s affirmative action program utilizes a calendar-year plan, you may delay compliance with these new requirements until January 1, 2015. OFCCP has indicated that it understands that it will take time for federal contractors and subcontractors to “phase in” requirements. However, it is important to begin planning for the transition in a timely manner.

To assist our clients with this transition, we will be conducting a webinar on March 19, 2014, to review and discuss the new regulations, the implementation activities and reporting associated with each, and the timing for implementation of the various activities and reporting. We invite you to register to attend this seminar.

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