The U.S. Department of Labor has implemented new rules aimed at improving the hiring and employment of veterans and people with disabilities by federal contractors and subcontractors.

To accomplish this aim, the DOL has issued specific benchmarks that employers will use in their endeavors to meet the goals. The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act (“VERRA”) mandates a hiring benchmark based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (8% now) or based on the best available data. New accountability and record keeping requirements are intended to increase the effectiveness of employers’ recruitment and retention efforts.

The updates to the Rehabilitation Act institute a hiring goal for federal contractors and subcontractors that 7% of each job group in their workforce must be held by qualified individuals with disabilities. Contractors must take specific actions in recruitment, training, record keeping and policy dissemination to promote disabled employment. These rules are similar to those already in place for women and minorities.

Both Acts now require employers to ask employees to self-identify if they are disabled or a veteran at the offer stage. The rules further require employers to solicit whether employees meet these categories in the post-offer stage as well. As a third measure, employers must survey their entire current workforce (to be repeated every five years) for self-identification in these categories. An approved self-identification form will be provided on the DOL website. These forms must be maintained by employers in a separate file and should not be part of regular personnel/medical files.