The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently announced new Affirmative Action rules that will impose additional obligations on federal contractors with respect to hiring veterans and disabled workers. The new rules, which will take effect 180 days from their publication in the Federal Register, will require federal contractors to establish hiring goals for veterans and disabled employees, gather and retain data on hiring decisions, track their progress against those goals, and keep relevant records for three years.

In particular, among other changes, under the new regulations, contractors will now be required to:

  • Establish hiring benchmarks and utilization goals. Contractors will now be required to establish annual hiring benchmarks for veterans and strive to achieve a 7% utilization goal in each job group for individuals with disabilities.
  • Data collection. The regulations will now require contractors to collect new data related to the hiring process and hiring decisions and retain that data for a period of three years.
  • Invitation to self-identify. Contractors will be required to invite veterans and the disabled to selfidentify at both the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process. The new regulations will also require contractors to invite their employees to self-identify as individuals with disabilities within the first year after the contractors become subject to the new regulations and renew their self-identifications every five years thereafter.
  • Incorporation of the EEO Clause. The new regulations will require contractors to incorporate specific language in bold print into their federal sub-contracts.
  • Records Access. The new regulations will require contractors to provide the OFCCP with records access to monitor compliance.

Although these rules will not take effect for at least six months, it is important to act now, since contractors may need to make changes to existing processes and invest in new technologies in order to

come into compliance. Compliance may also be challenging for contractors, as the new regulations leave a number of unanswered questions about their interplay with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Planning and preparation will be key. As a result, contractors should consider taking the following actions to ensure they have the appropriate processes, resources, and technology systems in place to ensure compliance:

  • Review and update existing technologies;
  • Review and update hiring forms and processes;
  • Develop a process to allow the existing workforce to self-identify as individuals with disabilities. This process should include a communication plan, a procedure for distributing and collecting forms and contemplation of accommodations that might be necessary for individuals to complete the selfidentification process;
  • Evaluate and enhance record-keeping practices;
  • Incorporate EEO language into sub-contracts;
  • Update Affirmative Action Plans; and
  • Review and enhance internal resources.

Finally, some contractors should note that they may have additional time to comply with some of the new requirements. Specifically, current contractors with a written affirmative action program (AAP) already in place on the effective date may delay their compliance with the AAP requirements until the end of their plan year. This structure will allow contractors the opportunity to maintain their current AAP cycle.