By Edwin S. Hopson
On December 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is proposing a new rule that would require federal contractors and subcontractors to set a hiring goal of having 7% of their workforce be people with disabilities, among other requirements. OFCCP is inviting public comment on its proposal.
OFCCP’s proposed rule would substantially increase the affirmative action requirements contained in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which obligates federal contractors and subcontractors to ensure equal employment opportunities for qualified workers with disabilities. For many years, Section 503 has only required that federal contractors make a “good faith effort” to recruit and hire persons with a disability.
The proposed regulations also make significant, substantive changes to a contractor’s responsibilities and the process through which applicants are invited to voluntarily self-identify as individuals with disabilities protected by section 503 during the hiring process. It also adds a new requirement that contractors must annually survey employees in order to provide an opportunity for each employee who is, or subsequently becomes, an individual with a disability to voluntarily and anonymously self-identify.
With these changes, the contractor’s affirmative action programs would be required to contain the following elements: (1) An equal employment opportunity policy statement; (2) a comprehensive annual review of personnel processes; (3) a review of physical and mental job qualifications; (4) a statement that the contractor is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with physical and mental disabilities; (5) a statement that the contractor is committed to ensuring a harassment free workplace for individuals with disabilities; (6) external dissemination of the contractor’s affirmative action policy, as well as outreach and recruitment efforts; (7) internal dissemination of the contractor’s affirmative action policy to all of its employees; (8) development and maintenance of an audit and reporting system designed to evaluate affirmative action programs; and (9) training regarding the implementation of the affirmative action program for all personnel involved in employment related activities, such as the conduct of recruitment, screening, selection, and discipline of employees.
The proposed revisions can be found at: