The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued new rules that increase affirmative action requirements of direct federal contractors and subcontractors.
The OFCCP issued its final rules in the Federal Register on Sept. 24th. The OFCCP announced that the rules, which affect hiring and retention practices for veterans and persons with disabilities, would not go into effect until 180 days after being published, making the effective date of both rules March 24, 2014. However, for federal contractors with an affirmative action plan already in effect, the affirmative action program requirements do not go into effect until the beginning of the next plan year.
The rules are an overhaul of the regulations implementing the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503), which prohibit discrimination and require contractors to take affirmative action in all personnel practices. The revised regulations contain hiring targets both for veterans and individuals with disabilities and require that employers undertake voluntary self-disclosure surveys for applicants and employees seeking information about whether they have disabilities. (The EEOC already has issued a letter stating that it does not regard such surveys as inconsistent with the ADA).
Besides creating new and increased recordkeeping and tracking requirements, the rules require covered contractors to develop more expansive affirmative action programs to address the new requirements. Also, contractors will need to reassess and update existing personnel policies and procedures regarding affirmative action, reasonable accommodation and harassment. Certain information will need to be disseminated to all employees; and training should be conducted for the overall workforce, management and those specifically involved in recruiting, screening, selecting, promoting, disciplining and related supervisory duties.
Previously, there were two sets of regulations covering VEVRAA. The new regulations adopt a new across-the-board coverage threshold of $100,000 or more. In addition, covered contractors or subcontractors with 50 or more employees are required to develop and maintain a written VEVRAA affirmative action program. The disabilities rule requirements apply to contractors and subcontractors with a covered federal contract or subcontract valued in excess of $10,000. In addition, covered contractors and subcontractors with contracts valued at $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees must develop and maintain a written Section 503 affirmative action program.