Government contractors should be aware that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) recently issued its official Self-Identification of Disability Form (“Form”). The Form is the product of the OFCCP’s final regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that require covered federal contractors to invite applicants and employees to self-identify as an individual with a disability.
The Form instructs the reader that the contractor is to report disability information, but the disclosure of such information by the applicant or employee is completely voluntary and cannot be used against them in any way. The Form further provides a non-exhaustive list of possible disabilities including, but not limited to, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, missing limbs or partially missing limbs, schizophrenia, autism, HIV/AIDS, blindness, deafness, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
The Form also contains a Reasonable Accommodation Notice that allows a qualified individual to identify whether or not a reasonable accommodation is required to apply for a job or perform their job. Examples of reasonable accommodations are listed and include changing the application process or work procedures, providing documents in an alternate format, using a sign language interpreter, or using specialized equipment.
Moreover, the OFCCP is encouraging the contractors not to wait until the following plan year to begin soliciting the self-identification data. Rather, contractors should invite applicants and employees to fill out the form starting on the regulations’ effective date, March 14, 2014. The regulations require that contractors extend applicants and employees three separate invitations to self-identify their disability status:
- one at the pre-offer pre-employment stage,
- one at the post-offer pre-employment stage, and
- every five years thereafter (including the first year the contractor is covered by the regulations).
The required invitation language will be posted on the OFCCP web site prior to the effective date.
The information gathered will assist the OFCCP in attaining its 7 percent utilization rate goal for the disabled workforce. Contractors should begin making the necessary preparations to ensure compliance with the new regulations.