On April 25, 2011, the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced a proposed rule to increase the affirmative action obligations federal contractors and subcontractors owe to veterans. It was published in the Federal Register on April 26 to allow for a 60-day comment period and will likely generate significant discussion among both contractor and veterans groups.

Some of the changes simply clean up regulatory language which is no longer accurate and others clarify existing obligations. The most controversial changes, however, add some rather significant data collection, monitoring, recruitment and hiring obligations. As the DOL's news release summarized:

"The rule proposes requiring contractors to engage in at least three specified types of outreach and recruitment efforts each year. In addition, the proposed rule would require that all applicants be invited to self-identify as a "protected veteran" before they are offered a job. Increasing data collection on job referrals, applicants and hires, and requiring contractors to establish hiring benchmarks to assist in measuring the effectiveness of their affirmative action efforts also are proposed."

As we have previously reported, this Agency has become much more active under the Obama administration and previously indicated that this rule would be forthcoming. Unfortunately, even those businesses who are making substantial, good faith efforts to employ veterans may find the proposed recordkeeping and goal setting obligations unwieldy.

Those wanting a copy of the proposed rule can find it in the April 26, 2011 Federal Register or by going to this link.