Government contractors in the United States are subject to additional nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements with respect to veterans and individuals with disabilities. The federal regulations implementing these requirements have recently been significantly revised, with the revised regulations taking effect March 24, 2014. The revisions increase contractor responsibilities and are intended to address current barriers facing veterans and individuals with disabilities. The revised regulations contain a variety of changes, and this blog post focuses on the changes to a federal contractor’s obligation to invite an applicant or employee to self-identify veteran status or disability.
Initially, it should be noted that although the revised regulations become effective March 24, 2014, contractors who are in mid-cycle of their applicable affirmative action programs (AAP) are not required to implement the changes regarding invitations to self-identify until the start of their next AAP cycle. Nonetheless, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is encouraging contractors to implement the new procedures before then in order to allow for a more “robust” first year AAP under the new regulations. The OFCCP also has stated that the first AAP is a transitional one and that a contractor will not be found in violation of the new requirements regarding invitations to self-identify if it can demonstrate that it has acted reasonably in light of its particular circumstances. Accordingly, it likely is to a contractor’s benefit to transition early to the new requirements.
As a brief overview, the new regulations require certain federal contractors to provide the following invitations for self-identification:
Invitations To Self-Identify Veteran Status:
- Pre-Offer Invitation to Applicant to Identify as a “Protected Veteran”
- Post-Offer Invitation to Applicant to Identify Specific Protected-Veteran Category (i.e., as a disabled veteran, recently separated veteran, active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran, or armed forces service medal veteran)
Invitations To Self-Identify As Individual With A Disability:
- Pre-Offer Invitation to Applicant to Identify as Individual with Disability
- Post-Offer Invitation to Applicant to Identify as Individual with Disability
- Invitation to Current Employees to Identify as Individual with Disability (during the first year the contractor is subject to the regulation and every five years thereafter)
- Reminder to Current Employees of Ability to Update Disability Status (at least once during each five-year period)
The regulations include sample invitations that can be used with respect to identifying veteran status and a required invitation that must be used with respect to identifying disability (see here [PDF]).
If you are a government contractor, now is a good time to review your invitations for self-identification and begin implementing the newly required invitations prior to the start of your next AAP cycle.