On January 3, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued final regulations intended to increase the number of individuals with disabilities employed by federal agencies. The new regulations require that each federal agency aim to have a workforce of which 12 percent have disabilities and 2 percent of that 12 percent have “targeted” or severe disabilities. A list of targeted disabilities is found in the EEOC’s Q&A on the final regulations.
As part of the regulations, federal agencies are also required to provide personal assistance services, such as assistance with eating or using the restroom. However, such services do not include medical care.
These regulations, if they take effect, will apply only to federal agencies. They will not apply to private employers, or to local or state governments.
This affirmative action rule for the federal government is significantly broader than the requirements that apply to federal contractors. The regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act set a national utilization goal of 7 percent for each job group within a contractor’s workforce and do not set a separate goal for targeted disabilities.
Although the rule will not be enforced until January 3, 2018, the effective date is March 6, 2017. Because the rule has not yet become effective, it is subject to the Trump Administration’s “regulatory freeze,” which delays all yet-to-become-effective regulations until 60 days from the Inauguration, which took place on January 20. With respect to this particular rule, the freeze would result in a two-week delay of the effective date, until March 20, 2017. However, the EEOC could propose a formal rule to further delay this effective date as permitted by the President’s Memorandum on pending regulations.
Even if the rule does take effect, the President’s hiring freeze may render the rule moot for many federal agencies and agency positions.