Under the OFCCP's final rule announced on August 27, 2013, federal contractors and subcontractors that meet the applicability criteria will be required to meet new goals for hiring protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. For veterans, the new "benchmark" is based on the percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force (currently 8 percent) or another figure that reflects the contractor's unique hiring circumstances. 78 Fed. Reg. 58613 (Sept. 24, 2013) [pdf]. For individuals with disabilities [pdf], the "placement goal" is 7 percent, measured by job groups. 78 Fed. Reg. 58681 (Sept. 24, 2013) [pdf].
In addition to requiring contractors to implement and keep records reflecting their compliance with the new percentage benchmarks and goals, here are some key features of the new rule:
- Flowdown of the Equal Opportunity clause. The precise language and appearance of contract clauses that impose the affirmative action requirements on subcontractors are specified.
- Job listing requirements. Contractors will be required to state specifically that they are equal opportunity employers of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.
- Invitation to self-identify. Job applicants must be given an opportunity to self-identify as a protected veteran or as an individual with disabilities before they are given an offer of employment. OFCCP intends to publish a form for use by contractors in making this inquiry. All employees must be given an opportunity to self-identify as an individual with disabilities within a year after the rule is effective and thereafter at least every five years.
- Data collection. Contractors will be required to document and update quantitative data on the number of veterans and individuals with disabilities that apply for jobs and the number that are hired.
- OFCCP access to records. Contractors are required to allow OFCCP broader access to records needed to verify their compliance. Records would have to be provided on-site or off-site and in any format that OFCCP requests.
The new requirements are expected to go into effect in March 2014. Contractors with a written affirmative action plan in place on the effective date of the new rules will have until the date of their next affirmative action plan year to implement the goal-setting and self-identification requirements.
For more information on the final rule and the specific requirements imposed on federal contractors and subcontractors, Hush Blackwell's client update is available here. Background on OFCCP's initiatives for individuals with disabilities is available in these earlier blog entries: