The United States Department of Labor “(DOL”) publicly released two affirmative action Final Rules on Tuesday.These highly-anticipated Final Rules, to be enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”), will increase the obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified veterans, as well as persons with disabilities. One Final Rule updates requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (“VEVRAA”), and the other updates requirements under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. According to the OFCCP, both Final Rules will be published in the Federal Register and will become effective in 180 days.

Both Final Rules were initially proposed in 2011, but due to the numerous comments received during the public comment period (over 400 comments were made regarding the Section 503 Proposed Rule and over 100 comments were made regarding the VEVRAA Proposed Rule), they were only recently finalized. The DOL made multiple changes to the Proposed Rules in response to the public comments.

The VEVRAA Final Ruleprovides metrics to measure contractor success in veteran recruitment and employment by requiring contractors to adopt annual hiring goals based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce or their own data-based benchmarks. The Final Rule also increases contractor recordkeeping requirements and alters job listing requirements, among other minor changes.

The Section 503 Final Ruleimplements a hiring goal for federal contractors and subcontractors. The new goal requires that 7 percent of each job group in a company’s workforce be qualified individuals with disabilities.If a company has fewer than 100 employees, the goal applies to the entire workforce. The Final Rule also lists additional actions contractors must take, which are similar to those previously required to promote equality for women and minorities.

These Final Rules are another step in OFCCP’s increased enforcement of both old and new regulations, which has drastically impacted the level of vigilance federal contractors and subcontractors must use in order to comply with federal labor laws. In light of these new Final Rules, federal contractors and subcontractors should review their current policies and procedures to ensure they are compliant before Spring 2014 (the end of the 180-day period).