New Regulations to Take Effect on Recruitment of Veterans and Disabled Employees by Federal Contractors

hThe Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has announced new regulations that will affect federal contractors’ and subcontractors’ recruiting of veterans and disabled employees.  The new regulations take effect on March 24, 2014, with some exceptions, and have been enacted under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Among other changes, these regulations:

  • Create “hiring benchmarks” for veterans and “utilization goals” for disabled employees;
  • Require covered employers to collect new types of demographic data on applicants and existing workers; and
  • Require covered employers to document compliance efforts, and to maintain certain data collected in the course of compliance.

Whether an employer is a covered employer subject to these new rules is dependent on the dollar value of the employer’s federal contracts or subcontracts, as well as, in some cases, the number of employees in the employer’s workforce.

 The new goals and benchmarks are not, despite some press reports and political commentary to the contrary, mandatory quotas for hiring.  That is, failure to meet them is not, in itself, a violation of the regulations.  But the rules nonetheless oblige employers to pursue the aspirational targets in good faith, and they create real, tangible compliance tasks for doing so.

With respect to recruiting veterans, covered employers must decide whether to adopt the “standard” 8% hiring benchmark promulgated by the OFCCP, which the government has concluded represents the portion of protected veterans in the national labor pool as a whole.  Or the employer must establish a custom benchmark of its own based on enumerated factors such as veterans’ representation in the state labor force and the employer’s own historical applicant and hiring ratios.  There is not yet any caselaw guidance on what standards the government will apply to determine the sufficiency of an employer’s custom benchmark, suggesting that at least initially, the standard benchmark may be the simpler and more conservative course.

With respect to recruiting disabled employees, there is a single 7% goal with no alternative for individual customization.  Importantly, the goal is applicable to the workforce as a whole, not to new hires specifically, and an employer with more than 100 employees must separately apply the goal to each distinct “job group” within its workforce.

Covered employers must ask job applicants to self-identify, at the time of application, as protected veterans or disabled persons, and must use certain mandatory language when doing so.  Moreover, because the utilization goal for disabled employees is applicable to the whole workforce, not just to new hires, employers must, at certain specified intervals, request that existing employees provide their disability status.   Notably, employers must maintain these data for three years, not, as in many other equal employment opportunity contexts, two.

Examples of other required good faith efforts include mandatory outreach to applicants from protected groups, documentation of employers’ compliance efforts, and annual self-assessments of employers’ progress.  Employers have been given considerable latitude in how to carry out that outreach, but examples of outreach efforts encouraged by the government include collaborating with and issuing notices of job vacancies to third-parties who have access to covered applicant pools or have mandates of their own to assist such populations, such as state disability services agencies, college veterans’ counselors, and local veterans and disability advocacy or service groups.

In short, these new requirements will entail significant and potentially logistically complicated compliance obligations for which government contractors and subcontractors should begin to plan immediately.

This blog/web site presents general information only. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and you should not consider or rely on it as such. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. This website is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information at this website. Neither our presentation of such information nor your receipt of it creates nor will create an attorney-client relationship with any reader of this blog. Any links from another site to the blog are beyond the control of Pullman & Comley, LLC and do not convey their approval, support or any relationship to any site or organization. Any description of a result obtained for a client in the past is not intended to be, and is not, a guarantee or promise the firm can or will achieve a similar outcome.

PDF
Subscribe to Updates

About Our Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law Blog

Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits practice on such workplace topics as labor and employment law, counseling and training, litigation, immigration law and union issues, as well as employee benefits and ERISA matters.

Other Blogs by Pullman & Comley

Education Law Notes

Connecticut Health Law Blog

Recent Posts

Archives

Jump to Page