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U.S. Housing and Urban Development Veterans’ Day Program (posted October 31, 2014)

Friday, October 31st, 2014

On behalf of the Veterans Affinity Group (VAG) Leadership, our VAG members, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affinity Group (VAG) Veterans Day Planning Committee we would like to make you aware of, and extend this invitation to you, and your colleagues, and looks forward to your presence at the (2014) HUD Veterans Day Ceremony and Reception, scheduled to for Thursday, November 6, 2014, (11:00a.m. – 12:00 Noon). The (2014) HUD Veterans Day Theme: Honor, Courage, Loyalty: “Honoring All Who Served – Our Wounded Warriors”.

Our (2014) Veterans Day Program Keynote Speaker is Mr. Brandon Friedman, General Deputy Assistant Secretary (GDAS) for Public Affairs, (former Infantry Officer, Rifle Platoon Leader, and Executive Officer, with the 101st Airborne Division), with comments from Mr. Brian A. Sagert, HUD Las Vegas Field Office Director, (former Navy Operations Specialist), Mr. Brian A. Hawkins, District of Columbia Veterans Affairs Medical Center Director, (former Army National Guardsmen, and Pilot), and Mr. Jon Ostrowski, Director Veterans & Legislative Affairs, Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) (Senior Chief Petty Officer, United States Coast Guard Reserve).

Other distinguished will include Capt. Arthur M. Brown, Fleet Chaplain, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, U.S. TENTH Fleet, Mr. John Benison, Director, HUD Office of Departmental Equal Employment Opportunity, the Military District of Washington Joint Forces Ceremonial Color Guard and Bugler, District of Columbia Public Schools Junior ROTC Cadets, the Prince George’s County Public Schools Junior ROTC Cadets, and others.

This year’s HUD Veterans Day Program will also include a collaborative venture with the HUD Veterans Affinity Group (VAG) and the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) sponsorship of a (2014) “Veterans Health & Education Fair”. The purpose of this collaborative (“Health & Education Fair”) outreach event is to educate, inform, and enroll our HUD military veteran employees, and their Family members/dependents, into the VA Medical Benefits program and make them aware of their available medical benefits, and the VA’s available medical programs and benefits. HUD military veteran employees, spouses, and dependents are encouraged to participate in this opportunity on Thursday, November 6, 2014 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm). Our focus is to urge all of our HUD military veterans, and their dependents to enroll in, and take advantage of their Veterans Medical Benefits, and other Benefit programs, and to pass the word in the community, to our Veterans, that the VAMC is to here to help our veterans and their Family members.

Services offered on Thursday, November 6, 2014, at the Weaver Building (HUD HQ.) will include VA Eligibility Personnel (ID Cards), VA Benefits Advisors, Glucose and Blood Pressure Checks, Flu Shots, Cholesterol Checks, Education on using Ebenefits and MyHealtheVet online systems, National Cemetery Administration, Trauma Services, and OEF/OID/OND Veteran Resources. Veterans will also have access to multiple local Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) to obtain membership and benefits information.

Veterans who have not previously enrolled in the VA Health Care System need to bring their DD214 and a Photo ID. Health Care Services will be provided only to Military Veterans and their Families.

The location for the (2014) Veterans Day Ceremony, and Reception, is the Weaver Building (HUD Headquarters), located at 451 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC. (Brooke-Mondale Auditorium). For Security purposes, all invited guest are required to RSVP with their First/Last Name, and last four numbers of their social security number (SSN), along with the name, and last four numbers of the SSN of anyone accompanying them to this Honorable event. Please RSVP to: Walter Elmore at: Walter.A.Elmore@HUD.Gov, or 202-402-7120, or Ms. Saad Akhdar at: Saad.X.Akhdar@hud.Gov or 202-402-4203.

The (2014) HUD Veterans Day Ceremony will begin promptly at 11:00am. Please use the South Plaza Entrance to enter the HUD Building and Parking is available at the L’Enfant Plaza Garage, on D Street, S.W. (Security screening is MANDATORY – Please bring proper photo ID)

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (October 31, 2014)

Friday, October 31st, 2014

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Celebrates NDEAM with Employers in Virginia and Wisconsin

Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA, observed National Disability Employment Awareness Month on October 23 by holding a training event for human resource professionals, hiring managers and supervisors. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez kicked-off the half-day event, updating participants on resources they can use to recruit, retain and advance qualified people with disabilities, including veterans. Then on October 28 Assistant Secretary Martinez was in Milwaukee, WI, where she spoke to employers at an NDEAM event sponsored by Wisconsin’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The event was held as part of the division’s “Business Services Initiative,” a pilot program to strengthen partnerships between vocational rehabilitation and state employers.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Contributes to DOL’s Books that Shaped Work in America

In honor of its Centennial in 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, developed a list of Books that Shaped Work in America. Many notable people have participated, including former secretaries of labor, authors, academics and many more. Recently, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez contributed three books to the collection: Workforce of One by Susan Cantrell and David Smith, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, and David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. “As a nation that prides itself on industriousness, it’s not surprising that we’ve long been attracted to books with work and workers as central themes,” noted Martinez.

Department of Labor Joins Social Security Administration for Twitter Chat

Posting in English and Spanish, staff from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Office of Disability Employment Policy joined an hour-long Twitter Chat hosted by the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program on October 24. Nearly 140 advocates, employers and organizations tweeted about DOL’s Section 503 rule, what it means for employers and for Social Security disability beneficiaries, online resources, and useful statistics. The chat also featured ODEP’s new “Who I Am” public service announcement emphasizing the value and talent people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces. The online discussion generated nearly 750 public posts using the hashtag #DEChat and left 28,107 impressions on Twitter feeds on the day of the event.

LEAD Center Releases Policy Brief on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (Public Law No. 113-128) aims to improve federal workforce development programs and provide new opportunities to advance economic self-sufficiency for millions of Americans with and without disabilities. WIOA repeals and supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The LEAD Center has created a summary of the major amendments to Titles I and IV of the Workforce Investment Act from a disability perspective, focusing on those provisions in the legislation pertaining to workforce development and vocational rehabilitation systems of particular applicability to individuals with disabilities.

US Labor Department will extend Equal Pay Report comment period through Jan. 5, 2015: More time to comment on proposed rule to collect summary pay data from federal contractors (October 31, 2014)

Friday, October 31st, 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a 60-day extension of the comment period for its proposed rule requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to submit an annual Equal Pay Report on employee compensation to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Under the terms of the proposal, this requirement would apply to companies that file EEO-1 reports, have more than 100 employees, and hold federal contracts or subcontracts worth $50,000 or more for at least 30 days. Through the Equal Pay Report, OFCCP would be able to collect summary employee pay and demographic data using existing government reporting frameworks.

President Obama signed a presidential memorandum on April 8 instructing the secretary of labor to propose a rule to collect summary compensation data from federal contractors and subcontractors. The department published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Aug. 8, with a deadline to submit comments by Nov. 6. The comment period will be extended through Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. To read and comment on the proposed rule, please visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/EPR.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require contractors and subcontractors that do business with the federal government to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp.

Media Contacts:

Laura McGinnis, 202-693-4653, mcginnis.laura.k@dol.gov

Michael Trupo, 202-693-6588, trupo.michael@dol.gov

Federal Transit Authority Guidance Circular FTA C 9040.1G–Formula Grants for Rural Areas: Program Guidance and Application Instructions (October 24, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

1. PURPOSE. This circular is a reissuance of guidance on the administration and preparation of grant applications for the Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program under 49 U.S.C. 5311. This revision incorporates provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; Pub. L. 112-141 (2012)), and includes the most current available guidance as of the date of publication.

2. CANCELLATION. When final, this circular will cancel FTA Circular 9040.1F, “Nonurbanized Area Formula Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions,” dated April 1, 2007.

3. AUTHORITY.
a. Federal Transit Laws, Title 49, United States Code, Chapter 53.
b. 49 CFR 1.51.

4. WAIVER. FTA reserves the right to waive any provisions of this circular to the extent permitted by federal law or regulation.

5. FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE. In conjunction with publication of this circular, FTA published a notice in the Federal Register on October 24, 2014, addressing comments received during development of the circular.

6. AMENDMENTS TO THE CIRCULAR. FTA reserves the right to amend this circular to reflect changes in other revised or new guidance and regulations that undergo notice and comment without further notice and comment on this circular. FTA will post updates on our website at www.fta.dot.gov. The website allows the public to register for notification when FTA issues Federal Register notices or new guidance. Please visit the website and click on “Connect with FTA” for more information.

7. ACCESSIBLE FORMATS. This document is available in accessible formats upon request. To obtain paper copies of this circular as well as information regarding these accessible formats, call FTA’s Administrative Services Help Desk at 202-366-4865. Individuals with hearing impairments may contact Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for assistance with the call.

For the complete contents of the guidance, go to http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_Circular_9040_1G_with_index_-_Final.pdf.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (October 24, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

DOL Releases Economic Picture of the Disability Community Project

The U.S. Department of Labor has released the Economic Picture of the Disability Community Project, a joint initiative between DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Employment and Training Administration, Chief Economist, Office of the Secretary, and the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). The data produced are based on CEA analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2010-2012 American Community Survey, matched to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012-2022 occupational projections. “Expect.Employ.Empower.with Data,” a blog authored by Heidi Shierholz, the Labor Department’s Chief Economist, and Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, highlights some of the disability employment data and its significance for the U.S. workforce.

White House to Hold Monthly Disability Community Call – October 27, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT

The White House Disability Outreach team will hold a conference call Monday, October 27, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT. The call will feature Patricia Shiu, Director, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, U.S. Department of Labor. Director Shiu will be discussing the Administration’s implementation of the Section 503 regulations and efforts to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Live Captioning will be available for the call.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Discusses Disability Employment During NDEAM

On October 17, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez was in the Sunshine State, where she spoke at an “Esteemed Employee Awards” ceremony and luncheon hosted by Miami-Dade’s Spinal Cord Living‐Assistance Development, Inc. Held as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the awards honored 10 employees with disabilities living and working in South Florida. Then Martinez visited federal employees in Washington, DC, at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on October 20 and the U.S. Mint on October 21. She provided keynote addresses at each agency’s disability awareness training event.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Records Video on Employment of Older Persons Who Are Visually Impaired

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, was featured in a video for VisionAware. The video focused on employment of older workers who are visually impaired. VisionAware, a service of the American Foundation for the Blind, helps adults who are losing their sight continue to live full and independent lives by providing timely information, step-by-step daily living techniques, a directory of national and local services, and a supportive online community.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Named One of the 2014 HispanicBusiness.com 50 Influentials

HispanicBusiness.com has named its 50 Influentials for 2014, and Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, is among them. Other notables on the list come from the business world, academia, sports, entertainment and the federal government.

EEOC to Hold Twitter Chat on Disability Employment in the Federal Sector – October 28, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a live Twitter chat on Tuesday, October 28, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT. In commemoration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the interactive online forum will focus on the federal government as a model employer of people with disabilities. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang and Commissioner Chai Feldblum will answer questions during the hour-long chat. Members of the public are encouraged to participate by submitting questions using the hashtag #EEOC4NDEAM. The EEOC invites queries regarding the hiring, promotion and retention of people with disabilities in the federal government and suggestions on how agencies can increase the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce. The EEOC will conduct the chat using the agency’s official Twitter handle @EEOCNEWS. During the Twitter chat, Commissioner Feldblum will be using her personal Twitter handle @chaifeldblum.

Bullying of Students with Disabilities Addressed in Guidance to America’s Schools (October 24, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance to schools reminding them that bullying is wrong and must not be tolerated—including against America’s 6.5 million students with disabilities.

The Department issued guidance in the form of a letter to educators detailing public schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires schools to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring.

“While there is broad consensus that bullying cannot be tolerated, the sad reality is that bullying persists in our schools today, especially for students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. “Basic decency and respect demand that our schools ensure that all their students learn in a safe environment. I look forward to continuing our work with schools to address and reduce incidents of bullying so that no student is limited in his or her ability to participate in and benefit from all that our educational programs have to offer.”

Since 2009, OCR has received more than 2,000 complaints regarding the bullying of students with disabilities in the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools.

Today’s guidance builds upon anti-bullying guidance the Department has issued in recent years concerning schools’ legal obligations to fix the problem, including:

A 2013 dear colleague letter and enclosure by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) clarifying that when bullying of a student with a disability results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit under IDEA, the school must remedy the problem, regardless of whether the bullying was based on the student’s disability.

A 2010 dear colleague letter by the OCR, which elaborated on potential violations when bullying and harassment is based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.

A 2000 dear colleague letter by the OCR and OSERS, which explained that bullying based on disability may violate civil rights laws enforced by OCR as well as interfere with a student’s receipt of special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The latest letter makes clear that the protections for students with disabilities who are bullied on any basis extend to the roughly three quarters of a million students who are not eligible for IDEA services but are entitled to services under the broader Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That law bars discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Help is available for those who are either targets of disability bullying or know of someone who might be, such as:

A fact sheet for parents on schools’ obligations under federal law to address bullying. The fact sheet is also available in Spanish.
Visiting the federal Web site, www.stopbullying.gov, which provides useful information on bullying prevention and remedies.
Asking to meet with the student’s team that designs his or her individualized education program—the IEP or Section 504 teams.
Asking to meet with the principal or school district’s special education coordinators to have the school address bullying concerns.

Seeking help from OCR. The office investigates complaints of disability discrimination at schools. To learn more about federal civil rights laws or how to file a complaint, contact OCR at 800-421-3481 (TDD: 800-877-8339), or ocr@ed.gov. OCR’s Web site is www.ed.gov/ocr. To fill out a complaint form online, go to http://www.ed.gov/ocr/complaintintro.html.

To read the October 21, 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter, go to http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-bullying-201410.pdf.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (October 17, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

2014 Accessibility Conference Highlights Accessible Technology

The 2014 Accessibility (A11y) Conference, held October 15, brought together federal agency leaders and private business executives to discuss the development and adoption of technology that is accessible, usable, and universally designed for all workers. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez addressed the audience. Also at the event, which was co-sponsored by the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, PEATworks.org, the new web portal for the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) was unveiled. PEAT, funded by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, works to enhance the employment, retention, and career advancement of people with disabilities through accessible technology. PEATworks.org offers tools, resources, and collaboration related to accessible technology and employment for employers, technology providers, and technology users.

White House Recognizes Disability Employment Champions of Change

On October 14 at the White House, the Disability Employment Champions of Change were honored for their extraordinary work to promote workplace inclusion and to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The 10 Champions represented businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs. At the event, a new public service announcement from the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Campaign for Disability Employment called “Who I Am” was premiered. In a blog post about the event, ODEP Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez said, “We hope the PSA empowers everyone — particularly those of us with disabilities — to bring our whole selves to everything we do — including work.”

“Who I Am” Public Service Announcement Premieres

The new “Who I Am” public service announcement from the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Campaign for Disability Employment is now available for viewing and downloading on the CDE website. “Who I Am” features nine real people with disabilities. Rather than be defined by disability, these individuals are the sum of their many life roles — which includes working in jobs they love. In conjunction with the PSA, the CDE has launched the Ask Me Who I Am public engagement effort, which asks everyone to use hashtag #WhoIAmPSA to share one or more of their diverse identities.

Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology Launches PEATworks.org

The Office of Disability Employment Policy announced the launch of PEATworks.org, a comprehensive web portal spearheaded by the agency’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT). From educational articles to interactive tools, the website’s content aims to help employers and the technology industry adopt accessible technology as part of everyday business practice, for the benefit of all workers.

Alameda County, California Celebrates NDEAM with Assistant Secretary Martinez

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez was in California on October 16, where she spoke at a disability awareness training event hosted by Alameda County as part of its National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebration. During her remarks, she discussed disability as a part of diversity and the important role public sector employers have to play in increasing its representation in the workforce.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Releases Updated Schedule A Publication

As part of the interagency initiative Curb Cuts to the Middle Class, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued an updated version of its brochure, “The ABCs of Schedule A for Applicants with Disabilities.” The Schedule A hiring authority for people with disabilities is a vehicle for federal agencies to streamline the hiring process for qualified individuals with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities and psychiatric disabilities. The EEOC has committed to updating the remaining four Schedule A brochures by July 2015 in time for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The other brochures focus on hiring managers, human resource professionals, Disability Program Managers/Selective Placement Coordinators, and service providers.

GettingHired Interviews Assistant Secretary Martinez

In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, GettingHired’s Career Insights Blog interviewed Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. In the interview, Martinez discussed her thoughts on the new Section 503 requirements, disclosure of a disability, the labor force, barriers to employment and how companies should prepare to hire more people with disabilities. She also offered advice to individuals who are feeling discouraged with their job search, steering them to the American Job Centers for services.

Celebrating Blind Americans Equality Day

Blind Americans Equality Day is October 15, a day that is aside annually to celebrate the contributions of individuals with blindness and visual impairments. “Every day, people with visual impairments and other print disabilities enrich our communities and demonstrate the inherent worth of every person,” said President Obama in a proclamation issued for the event.

OFCCP Posts Two New FAQs on Section 503 Self-Identification and Listing “Remote” Jobs: The Section 503 FAQs Sheet (October 17, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

General Information

1. Why did OFCCP revise its Section 503 regulations?

OFCCP revised the Section 503 regulations to update and strengthen contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination responsibilities. The framework articulating contractors’ Section 503 responsibilities has been in place since the 1970’s. However, both the unemployment rate of working age individuals with disabilities and the percentage of working age individuals with disabilities that are not in the labor force remain significantly higher than for those without disabilities. A substantial disparity in the employment rate of individuals with disabilities continues to persist despite years of technological advancements that have made it possible for people with disabilities to apply for and successfully perform a broad array of jobs. In addition, we are finding more Section 503 violations during compliance investigations. This seems to indicate that the current compliance framework is not as effective as hoped.

Several factors contribute to limiting the ability of individuals with disabilities to seek, find, keep, and thrive in jobs. The existence of an outdated framework that does not reflect the realities of today’s workplace or current disability rights law; the persistent unemployment and underutilization of individuals with disabilities; and certain institutional and process barriers are all limiting factors. It is these factors, and others, that highlight the need for new regulations.

2. Did OFCCP change all of the Section 503 regulations?

No, several Section 503 requirements remain unchanged in the new regulations. OFCCP republished all of the Section 503 implementing regulations when it published the Final Rule in the Federal Register, whether or not the individual regulation changed, to make the Final Rule easier to read and understand.

3. Do the new Section 503 regulations differ from the regulations proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)?

Yes. OFCCP received more than 400 comments on the NPRM from contractors, disability rights organizations, and others during the public comment period. In light of the comments, we made several changes to the proposed regulations. The resulting new regulations increase contractor accountability for compliance with their affirmative action obligations, but provide contractors with greater flexibility than the NPRM originally proposed.

4. Where can I get a copy of the new regulations?

The new Section 503 regulations are available on the OFCCP Web site at www.dol.gov/ofccp/503Rule, where you can read them as published in the Federal Register or as posted in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR).

5. Will the “EEO is the Law” poster be revised in light of the new regulations? If so, should contractors stop using the current poster now that the new regulations are effective?

It is likely that the “EEO is the Law” poster will be revised in light of changes in the new regulations; for example, the new poster will reflect the change in the terminology used to describe the veterans protected by VEVRAA. Even though OFCCP is working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to revise the poster, contractors should continue using the existing poster. OFCCP will post a notice on its Web site to let contractors know when the new poster is available for use.

Effective Date and Compliance Schedule

1. When did the new Section 503 regulations become effective?

The new regulations became effective on March 24, 2014. Contractors should be in compliance with the nondiscrimination provisions of the new regulations as of this effective date. However, OFCCP is providing contractors with an extended compliance date for the Affirmative Action Program requirements in Subpart C. During this extended period, OFCCP will provide technical assistance to facilitate the transition for contractors.

2. March 24, 2014 fell in the middle of my company’s AAP year. When are we required to put in place a new AAP that complies with Subpart C of the new regulations?

Contractors with an AAP in place as of the effective date of the new regulations (March 24, 2014) may maintain that AAP until the end of their AAP year and delay their compliance with the AAP requirements of Subpart C of the new regulations until the start of their next AAP cycle. Contractors are nevertheless encouraged to begin updating their employment practices and IT systems to come into compliance with the revised requirements of Subpart C of the new regulations as soon as possible. In addition, contractors are reminded that they must be in compliance with the other requirements of the new regulations, in subparts A, B, D and E, as of the effective date.

Overview of the New Section 503 Regulations

1. What changes do the new Section 503 regulations make to the definitions section of the regulations?

The new Section 503 regulations make several changes to the definitions section of the regulations:

The title “Director” replaces the term “Deputy Assistant Secretary” to reflect the current title of the head of OFCCP;
The word “disability” and its component parts are made consistent with the definitions resulting from the passage of the ADAAA, which became effective on January 1, 2009, and which amends both the ADA and Section 503; and
The terms “individual with a disability” and “qualified individual with a disability” are changed to “disability” and “qualified individual,” respectively, in accordance with the ADAAA.

2. Are there different coverage and waiver provisions in the new Section 503 regulations?

No, there are no substantive changes but we deleted the “contract work only” exception in 60-741(a)(2), which expired in 1992.

3. Do the new regulations include a national utilization goal? What is a utilization goal?

Yes, the new regulations include an aspirational utilization goal of 7 percent. OFCCP created this goal to give contractors a yardstick against which they can measure the success of their efforts in outreach to and recruitment of individuals with disabilities. More specifically, contractors should use the goal to measure the change in the representation of individuals with disabilities in their workforce. The utilization goal, with its focus on the entire workforce, differs from the placement goal under the Executive Order 11246 program, which focuses on those employees newly placed into positions. The goal is not a quota.

4. How did OFCCP determine the utilization goal?

OFCCP established the utilization goal primarily using information taken from the disability data collected as part of the American Community Survey (ACS). We based the goal on the 2009 ACS disability data for the “civilian labor force” and the “civilian population,” first averaged by EEO-1 job category, and then averaged across EEO-1 category totals. Specifically, we used the mean across these EEO-1 groups to estimate that 5.7% of the civilian labor force has a disability as defined by the ACS. Due to the fact that ACS uses a narrower definition of disability, this 5.7% does not include all individuals with disabilities as defined under the broader definition in Section 503 and the ADAAA.

This number did not take into account discouraged workers, or the effects of historical discrimination against individuals with disabilities that has suppressed the representation of such individuals in the workforce.1 Therefore, OFCCP adjusted the 5.7% after estimating the size of the discouraged worker effect. We compared the percent of the civilian population with a disability (7.42 percent per the ACS definition) who identified as having an occupation to the percent of the civilian labor force with a disability (5.7 percent) who identified as having an occupation to arrive at the discouraged worker effect. The result, rounded, is a 7 percent utilization goal for individuals with disabilities.

5. If I am a federal contractor, does my company have to use the utilization goal? How do I apply it to my workforce?

Yes, you do have to use the national 7 percent utilization goal, and, in most instances, you apply it to the same job groups that you created for your Executive Order 11246 affirmative action program (AAP). If you are a small contractor using the EEO-1 job categories as your job groups in your Executive Order AAP, you apply the goal to your EEO-1 job categories. However, if you are a contractor with a total workforce of 100 or fewer employees, you may apply the goal to your workforce as a whole.

While you will not have to calculate your own goal, you will need to know how many individuals with disabilities are currently in your workforce and in what job groups or EEO-1 job categories, as applicable.

6. What happens if my company does not meet the 7 percent goal? Will we be sanctioned or fined?

Failure to meet the disability goal is not a violation of the regulations and will not lead to a fine, penalty or sanction. The regulations specifically provide that the disability goal is not to be used as a quota or a ceiling that limits or restricts the employment of individuals with disabilities. It further states that a contractor’s determination that it failed to meet the disability goal does not constitute either a finding or admission of discrimination in violation of the regulation.

When the percentage of individuals with disabilities in one or more job groups (or EEO-1 categories, or workforce as a whole, as appropriate, for small contractors) is less than the utilization goal, the contractor must take steps to determine whether and where impediments to equal employment exist. This includes assessing existing personnel processes, the effectiveness of its outreach and recruitment efforts, the results of its affirmative action program audit, and any other areas that might affect the success of the affirmative action program. After conducting this assessment, the contractor must develop and execute action-oriented programs to correct any identified problem areas.

7. What is a sheltered workshop? How does a contractor´s use of a sheltered workshop affect its assessment of whether it has met its utilization goal?

Sheltered workshops are segregated facilities that exclusively or primarily employ persons with disabilities. These workshops were created to provide an environment where individuals with certain disabilities can gain job skills and work experience.

Many sheltered workshops are authorized to pay special minimum wages under an exemption in section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 214(c), after receiving a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor´s Wage and Hour Division. The certificate allows the payment of special minimum wages to certain workers with disabilities. Section 60-741.47 of the new regulations (previously section 60-741.45) provides that “[c]ontracts with sheltered workshops do not constitute affirmative action in lieu of employment and advancement of qualified disabled individuals in the contractor´s own workforce.”

Contractors may include a contract with a sheltered workshop in its affirmative action program only if the sheltered workshop is training individuals that the contractor is obliged to hire at full compensation when they become qualified individual with disabilities. Such trainees are not included in the contractor´s utilization analysis or counted toward the contractor’s goal because they are not part of the contractor’s workforce. Only after the trainees become employees of the contractor, and are receiving the same compensation as other employees, may the contractor count these employees toward its utilization goal. If a contractor pays some of its own employees under an FLSA section 14(c) certification, the contractor counts those employees toward its goal in the job group in which they are employed. Contractors with more than 100 employees must apply the goal to each of their job groups, not to their workforce as a whole. Therefore, having a sheltered workshop inside the company will only count toward the contractor’s goal with respect to the specific job group in which work is performed by the sheltered workshop at that facility.

8. What changes do the new Section 503 regulations make to the contractor´s obligation to invite applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability?

The new Section 503 regulations require contractors to invite applicants to self-identify at the pre-offer stage, in addition to the already required post-offer self-identification invitation. OFCCP added this requirement so that contractors can track the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and use this information to assess the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The pre-offer invitation to self-identify may be included in the contractors´ application materials for a position, but must be separate from the application.
OFCCP has developed a form for contractors to use to invite self-identification of disability. The form is available on the OFCCP Web site, in English and Spanish, and in both Word and .pdf formats at www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/section503.htm.

9. When should my company invite pre-offer self-identification from applicants? Is the timing the same for Internet applicants?

The new Section 503 regulations permit contractors to invite applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability at the same time that the contractor collects demographic data regarding race, gender, and ethnicity from applicants, as required by Executive Order 11246. Under Executive Order 11246, the Internet Applicant Rule generally allows contractors to screen out individuals whom they believe do not meet the basic qualifications for the position prior to collecting demographic data regarding race, gender, and ethnicity. In order to harmonize Section 503’s pre-offer invitation to self-identify requirement with Executive Order 11246’s Internet Applicant recordkeeping provisions, OFCCP will permit contractors to invite applicants to self-identify after they meet the Internet Applicant requirements, including the basic qualification screen.

When designing basic qualification screens, contractors should be mindful of the requirements that Section 503 places on the use of qualification standards and selection criteria, including the use of “basic qualification” screens. Section 503 prohibits contractors from using qualification standards and selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or a class of individuals with disabilities unless the contractor can show that the standards or criteria are job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. Moreover, contractors may not use selection criteria that relate to the performance of an essential function of the job to exclude an individual with a disability if that person could satisfy the criteria with a reasonable accommodation.

10. Are there other new provisions related to voluntary employee self-identification, in addition to the requirement that contractors provide applicants a voluntary pre-offer self-identification opportunity?

Yes. There is now a requirement that contractors also regularly invite all of their employees to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability using the self-identification form provided by OFCCP. Contractors must invite their employees to self-identify every five years, beginning the first year that they become subject to the Section 503 voluntary self-identification requirements. In addition, at least once during the years between these invitations, contractors must remind their employees that they may voluntarily update their disability status at any time.

Through the new invitation and reminder to employees to self-identify, contractors can capture data on employees who become disabled while employed, as well as those with existing disabilities who may feel more comfortable self-identifying once they have been employed for some time. It also allows contractors to monitor and improve their practices regarding placement, retention, and promotion.

We also added new language to the voluntary self-identification requirements emphasizing that contractors may not compel or coerce individuals to self-identify, and that contractors must keep all self-identification information confidential.

11. Do the new Section 503 regulations still permit my company to incorporate the Equal Opportunity (EO) Clause into subcontracts by reference?

Yes. The new regulations permit contractors to incorporate the EO Clause into subcontracts by reference, but only by citing the EO Clause in the regulations AND including the following sentences in bold text:

“This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-741.5(a). This regulation prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability, and requires affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.”

12. Are there any new provisions in the EO Clause?

Yes. A new provision is added to be consistent with a comparable EO 11246 requirement regarding race and sex. The paragraph requires that contractors state in solicitations and advertisements that they are equal employment opportunity employers of individuals with disabilities.

13. Were any existing EO Clause provisions revised or updated?

Yes. The new Section 503 regulations update Paragraph 4 of the EO Clause so that it now reflects changes in technology and the business practices of contractors. In addition, OFCCP revised 60-741.5(d) to improve notice to contractors of the nature of their EO obligations.

14. Can a contractor satisfy its obligation to post a notice informing applicants and employees of their EEO rights by posting the notice electronically?

When a contractor has employees who do not work at its physical location, the contractor can satisfy its posting obligation by posting the EEO notice in electronic format. To have the ability to use electronic postings to satisfy this obligation, a contractor must either provide these employees with computers that can access the electronic posting or the contractor must have actual knowledge that the electronically posted notice is otherwise accessible to these employees. Contractors must post electronic notices for employees in a conspicuous location and format on their Intranet or send them to employees by electronic mail (i.e., email). If the contractor uses an electronic application process, it must post an electronic notice to inform job applicants of their EEO rights. Electronic notices for applicants must be conspicuously stored with, or as part of, the electronic application. In addition, in individual instances, a contractor may have to provide a notice of EEO rights electronically as a form of reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee, even if the employee works at the contractor´s physical location.

15. Do the new Section 503 regulations change the contractor´s obligation to conduct a review of physical and mental job qualification standards?

No. Section 60-741.44(c) of the new regulations still requires that these reviews of job qualification standards be conducted “periodically.”

16. Do the new Section 503 regulations require the use of mandatory job listings?

No. The new regulations do not mandate that contractors list employment opportunities with the American Job Centers, nor does it require that contractors enter into linkage agreements. Rather, the new regulations require that contractors undertake “appropriate outreach and positive recruitment activities,” and provide a number of suggested resources that contractors may use to carry out this general outreach and recruitment obligation.

The approach in the new regulations gives contractors the flexibility to choose the specific resources they believe will be most helpful in identifying and attracting qualified individuals with disabilities, given their particular needs and circumstances.

17. What changes do the new Section 503 regulations make to the Section 503 data collection requirements?

There is a new requirement specific to data collection and analysis. As a contractor, you must document and update annually the following information in 60-741.44(k):

for applicants: the total number of applicants for employment, and the number of applicants who are known individuals with disabilities;
for hires: the total number of job openings, the number of jobs filled, and the number of individuals with disabilities hired; and
the total number of job openings, and the number of jobs that are filled.

This data must be retained for three years.

18. Do the new Section 503 regulations change the requirement that contractors document the design and implementation of an audit and reporting system for their affirmative action program?

OFCCP always intended that contractors document the actions they take to comply with the requirement to design and implement an audit and reporting system. The new regulations make this intention explicit by requiring that contractors document these actions and retain these documents as employment records.

19. Do the new Section 503 regulations change the requirements for conducting outreach and recruitment?

The new regulations, at 60-741.44(f)(4), require the contractor to document all of its outreach and recruitment activities, and retain these records for three years. This should enable contractors and OFCCP to evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts in identifying and recruiting qualified individuals with disabilities.

20. How do the new regulations change the Section 503 recordkeeping requirements?

The recordkeeping requirements are modified to incorporate the new three-year record retention timeframe required under 60-741.44(f)(4) and (k).

21. Do the new Section 503 regulations update how compliance officers conduct compliance evaluations?

Yes. It has long been OFCCP’s practice to obtain information pertinent to the evaluation for periods after the date of the scheduling letter. The new regulations codify this position by stating that OFCCP may extend the temporal scope of an evaluation and examine information after the date of the compliance evaluation scheduling letter, if OFCCP deems it necessary to carry out its investigation of potential Section 503 violations. The new regulations also state that, upon request, the contractor must inform OFCCP of the format(s) in which it maintains its records and other information (e.g., Word; pdf; Excel), and provide the records and information to OFCCP in the available format(s) OFCCP selects. In addition, the new regulations state that OFCCP may request that the contractor provide documents either on-site or off-site during compliance checks and that OFCCP may conduct focused reviews both on-site and off-site. Finally, the new regulations add a pre-award compliance evaluation procedure like the one contained in the Executive Order 11246 regulations.

Compliance Assistance and Education

1. How can I contact OFCCP if I have questions about the new Section 503 regulations?

You may call OFCCP Toll-Free at 1-800-397-6251 (TTY: 1-877-889-5627) or contact us by email at OFCCP-Public@dol.gov. You may also contact the field office nearest you for assistance. To locate your nearest office visit our on-line OFCCP office directory at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/contacts/ofnation2.htm.

2. Does OFCCP provide technical assistance for contractors on the new Section 503 requirements?

Yes. OFCCP conducted a series of training webinars to help federal contractors comply with the new regulations, the recordings of which are available on the OFCCP website at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/final_rules_webinars.htm. Future training webinars on the new regulations will also be announced on this webpage.

In addition, OFCCP has compiled resources to support federal contractor compliance with the new regulations, which are available on the OFCCP website at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/Resources.htm.

Implementation Questions

In General: UPDATE

1. Does the Scheduling Letter request data and information required in the new Section 503 regulations?

Yes. Effective October 1, 2014, OMB approved a revised Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing specifying the documents and data that a contractor must provide to OFCCP when selected for a compliance evaluation. These include the contractor’s Section 503 Affirmative Action Program (AAP), and the documentation and information required by Subpart C of the new regulations, including but not limited to the contractor’s utilization analysis of the representation of individuals with disabilities, evaluation of outreach and recruitment efforts, and the data described in § 60-741.44(k).

2. The revised regulations require that the “EEO is the Law” poster be made available in a “form that is accessible and understandable” to individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans, such as Braille or large print. Must contractors maintain Braille and/or large print versions of the poster at all locations?

Providing the “EEO is the Law” poster in an alternate format, such as large print or Braille, is a form of reasonable accommodation. Therefore, contractors must make the poster available in such an alternate format only when an applicant or employee requests the poster in an alternate format, or when the contractor knows that an applicant or employee is unable to read the poster because of a disability. Contractors may also provide the poster to an applicant or employee with a disability in other alternate formats, such as on disc or in an audio recording, so long as the format provided enables the individual with a disability to access the contents of the poster.

3. The new regulations require contractors to “conspicuously store” the “EEO is the Law” poster with, or as part of, an electronic application. Does this mean that an actual physical or electronic copy of the poster must be individually stored with each application?

The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that applicants who apply for jobs electronically are informed of their equal employment opportunity protections as part of the application process. Although including a copy of the poster with every electronic application will satisfy the requirement, the regulations do not require contractors to do this. Rather, a contractor may choose to satisfy this requirement in any way that ensures that every electronic applicant has the opportunity to view the poster during the application process, such as by displaying a prominent link to the poster, along with a brief explanation of what the link connects to, as part of their electronic application.

4. When will the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) be updated to reflect the new Section 503 and VEVRAA requirements?

Updating the FAR is a separate process that is currently underway through the FAR Council. OFCCP is being consulted during that process and is working to ensure that updates to the FAR reflect Section 503 and VEVRAA requirements. It is not yet clear when these FAR revisions will be completed and the new FAR will be published. You may want to check with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council at https://acquisition.gov/far/.

5. Under the new regulations, must a contractor hire an individual with a disability who is not the best qualified but who meets the minimum requirements of the job for the purposes of affirmative action?

No. The Section 503 regulations do not require contractors to hire an individual who is not qualified for the position being sought. Nor do they require contractors to hire a less qualified candidate instead of the best qualified candidate for the purposes of affirmative action. However, it would not violate Section 503 for a contractor to select a person with a disability over a candidate without a disability who was equally or better qualified, so long as that selection was not based on a prohibited factor such as race, gender or ethnicity.

Compliance Schedule

1. What do contractors with AAPs in place under the old regulations need to do as of the effective date of the new Section 503 regulations (March 24, 2014) to ensure that their first AAPs under the new regulations are as compliant as possible?

As a contractor, you may delay compliance with the AAP requirements of Subpart C until your first AAP is due following the March 24, 2014 effective date. This includes the newly required pre-offer self-identification elements in § 60-741.42. While you are allowed to delay compliance with Subpart C until the start of your first post-effective date AAP, OFCCP does not encourage this approach. However, should you choose not to comply with Subpart C until your first post-effective date AAP, you must ensure that your existing AAP complies with all the current requirements, including using the post-offer self-identification invitation required by the current regulations in § 60-741.42.

OFCCP recommends that all contractors begin complying with Subpart C of the new regulations prior to the issuance of their first AAP under the new rules, and strongly encourages contractors to take these steps as soon as practicable. To begin coming into compliance, OFCCP recommends that, to the extent practicable, contractors:

Invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify as a person with a disability, at the pre- and post-offer stages, using the OFCCP form (60-741.42(a));
Conduct an initial self-identification survey of employees (60-741.42(c));
Include an EO policy statement in the AAP that shows top executive support for their AAPs (60-741.44(a));
Ensure that applicants and employees with disabilities have equal access to the contractors’ personnel processes, including those implemented using electronic means (60-741.44(b));
Assess and document the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts annually (60-741.44(f)(3));
Ensure that outreach and recruitment efforts are documented and retained (60-741.44(f)(4));
Document actions taken to comply with the audit and reporting system obligations (60-741.44(h));
Train employees engaged in key personnel activities (60-741.44(j));
Conduct data analysis by calculating data related to applicants and hires (60-741.44(k));
Conduct an annual workforce assessment and apply the 7 percent goal to each job group or to the workforce as a whole for smaller contractors with 100 or fewer employees (60-741.45(a); 741.45(c); 741-45(i)); and
Develop action plans for resolving any problems identified in the contractor’s utilization of individuals with disabilities (60-741.45(f)).
In addition, contractors must ensure full compliance with the requirements under the old regulations, including reviewing personnel practices (60-741.44(b)), reviewing job qualifications (60-741.44(c)), making reasonable accommodations available (60-741.44(d)), developing harassment policies (60-741.44(e)), engaging in outreach (60-741.44(f)), and having procedures for distributing information on EO and affirmative action efforts (60-741.44(g)).

An early start implementing the new regulations’ Subpart C affirmative action program requirements gives contractors time to identify issues or challenges, and to seek technical assistance from OFCCP prior to the due date of their first AAP under the new regulations. This makes for a more robust first year AAP plan under the new regulations.

2. What new elements should be included in the first AAP under the new Section 503 regulations, that is, after the effective date (March 24, 2014)?
Your first AAP under the new regulations should address all elements of Subpart C. Ideally, a contractor’s first AAP under the new rules should include, as best as possible, all of the elements of Subpart C, including:

Evidence that the contractor is complying with the requirements to invite voluntary self-identification per 60-741.42;
The inclusion of an equal opportunity policy statement per 60-741.44(a);
A review of the contractor’s personnel processes per 60-741.44(b);
A schedule for the review of all physical and mental job qualification standards and evidence that it adheres to that schedule per 60-741.44(c);
Information relating to the procedures developed and implemented ensuring that employees are not harassed on the basis of disability per 60-741.44(e);
A review and assessment of the contractor’s outreach and recruitment efforts per 60-741.44(f);
Documentation of all activities taken to comply with the obligations of 60-741.44 per 60-741.44(f)(4);
Documentation that the contractor has implemented and disseminated its commitment to affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities per 60-741.44(g);
Evidence that the contractor has designed and implemented an audit and reporting system per 60-741.44(h);
Identification of the individual assigned responsibility for the implementation of the contractor’s AAP and evidence of compliance with 60-741.44(i);
Data collection pursuant to 60-741.44(k);
The snapshot of the disability composition of the workforce, results of the utilization analysis and application of the goal; and a discussion of any problem areas identified and the actions planned to address any identified problems per 60-741.45.

For each element required by Subpart C, the contractor’s first AAP should:

Address everything that the contractor has done to comply with the elements of Subpart C that are not new;
Address everything that the contractor has done to come into compliance with the new provisions of Subpart C that became effective on March 24, 2014; and
To the extent that the contractor is not yet in full compliance with the new provisions of Subpart C, discuss the steps that it plans to take to come into compliance.

OFCCP understands that the first AAP is a transitional one for contractors.

Therefore, a contractor will NOT be found in violation of the new Subpart C, so long as it can demonstrate that it has acted reasonably, in light of its particular circumstances.

Data Collection Analysis

1. The data collection requirements in section 60-741.44(k)(2) of the new Section 503 regulations require contractors to document “the total number of job openings and total number of jobs filled.” Does the “total number of openings” refer to the number of requisitions or job vacancy announcements, or to the number of individual open positions referenced in the requisitions or announcements?

The total number of job openings refers to the number of individual positions advertised as open in a job vacancy announcement or requisition. For example, if one job vacancy announcement or requisition includes 5 open positions and results in 4 hires, the contractor would document this as 5 job openings and 4 jobs filled.

2. The data collection requirements in section 60-741.44(k) also ask contractors to report the number of jobs “filled” (60-741.44(k)(2)) and those “hired” (60-741.44(k)(4) and (5)). How does the number of “jobs filled” differ from the number of people “hired?”

In the context of the data collection requirements of 60-741.44(k), jobs “filled” refers to all jobs the company filled by any means, be it through a competitive process or non-competitively, e.g., through reassignment or merit promotion. It, therefore, should take into account both new hires into the company and those employees who were placed into new positions via promotions, transfers, and reassignments. In contrast, the number of those “hired” refers solely to those applicants (both internal and external to the contractor) who are hired through a competitive process, including promotions.

3. Does the number of “jobs filled” include step or ladder movements that are automatically attained upon completion of a stated event, such as time in the job or attainment of a particular certification?

Both competitive and non-competitive movements may qualify as “jobs filled,” so long as the movement is one into a different position, rather than simply a movement within the same position. This will necessarily be a fact-based determination. So, for example, a time-driven salary increase from one “step” to the next within the same position would not be a “job filled,” since there was not any movement into a new position. By contrast, if an apprentice completes a certification program and moves into a journeyman position, then such movement would be a “job filled,” since it is a movement from one position to another.

4. Can a contractor’s existing human resources information system (HRIS) and/or applicant tracking system (ATS) serve as the “data analysis file” in which disability self-identification must be stored?

Contractors may use their existing human resources information systems or applicant tracking systems as the data analysis file repositories for the disability data collected pursuant to the new regulations, provided that certain criteria are met. Specifically, the disability-related data must be stored securely, apart from other personnel information, so that confidentiality is maintained, and access to this data must be limited solely to contractor personnel who have a need to know the information for the purpose of complying with OFCCP’s regulations. Disability self-identification data must not be kept with the employee’s confidential medical file.

Self-Identification

1. May contractors create an electronically fillable copy of the form used to invite voluntary self-identification of disability?
Yes, contractors may create an electronically fillable version of the form used to invite self-identification provided that form meets certain requirements. The e-form must:

Display the OMB number and expiration date;
Contain the text of the form without alteration;
Use a sans-serif font, such as Calibri or Arial; and
Use at least 11-pitch for font size (with the exception of the footnote and burden statement, which must be at least 10-pitch in size).

Though it may seem that specifying the size and type of font is unnecessary, OFCCP is doing so to ensure the consistency of appearance, ease of reading, and accessibility of the form. By using the OMB number and date, job applicants and employees know that the form is an officially approved government form.

2. May contractors provide applicants and employees with a name and other contact information, at the same time they invite voluntary self-identification of disability status, so that the applicants and employees can obtain additional information about reasonable accommodation?

Yes. Contractors are encouraged to provide additional information about reasonable accommodation at the same time they invite voluntary self-identification of disability. This may include the name and contact information of the official(s) responsible for processing requests for reasonable accommodation from applicants and employees with disabilities, and information about the contractor’s reasonable accommodation procedures. The self-identification form contains a statement that contractors are required to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities to ensure equal employment opportunity and encourages applicants and employees to inform the contractor if a reasonable accommodation is needed. Although contractors may not alter the content of the OFCCP’s voluntary self-identification form, they are encouraged to provide additional reasonable accommodation information with the form.

3. May a contractor fulfill its obligation to invite its current employees to self-identify as having a disability by asking them to sign into an employee portal on the company Intranet?

The Section 503 regulations do not prescribe a particular method that contractors must use to invite its employees to self-identify. Contractors therefore have the flexibility to choose any method or methods that are reasonable and likely to be effective, given its particular circumstances. For example, contractors may choose to inform employees that it is inviting their self-identification in the same manner it uses to disseminate other important workplace notices to its employees. This might be emailing the notice of the survey and the self-identification form, or an Intranet link to the form, to all employees, or it might be prominently posting a notice with a link to the self-identification form on the company Intranet, prominently posting a notice and copies of the form in the employee lounge, or distributing a notice and copies of the form where employees go to sign in or pick up their paycheck.

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4. What information must a contractor store in order to demonstrate its compliance with the requirement to invite voluntary self-identification of disability from applicants and employees?

Recognizing that contractors may have different practices and information technology capabilities, OFCCP is providing a range of options for documenting compliance with the voluntary invitation to self-disclose disability requirement.

Paper Invitations. A contractor that invites voluntary self-identification of disability by using paper copies of the OFCCP self-identification form must retain either the hard copies of the completed self-identification forms, or electronic copies (e.g., pdf, scanned, etc.) of the completed paper forms. The contractor must also retain any log, spreadsheet, or database that it may have developed to record the data from the self-identification forms.

Electronic Invitations. A contractor that electronically invites voluntary self-identification of disability must either:

Retain electronic copies (e.g., pdf, scanned, etc.) of the electronically completed self-identification forms, as well as any log, spreadsheet or database it may have developed to record the data from the self-identification forms;
Retain hard copies of the electronically completed self-identification forms, as well as any log, spreadsheet or database it may have developed to record the data from the self-identification forms; or
Retain a detailed log, spreadsheet or database of the data collected from each electronically completed form, without copies of each individually completed form, if the electronic system does not store completed forms. However, the contractor must also be able to demonstrate how they delivered and/or displayed the voluntary invitation to self-identify. This allows compliance officers to verify that contractors met their obligation to use the OMB-approved form.

Vacancy Announcement Tagline

1. May contractors satisfy the EEO tagline requirement by abbreviating “disability” and “protected veteran status” as “D” and “V,” respectively?

Contractors may refer to those protected by Section 503 or VEVRAA by abbreviation, but such abbreviations must be commonly understood by those seeking employment. Simply using “D” and “V” are not adequate abbreviations for this reason. For those protected by Section 503 or VEVRAA, the tagline should at a minimum state “disability” and “vet” so that the tagline will be clearly understood by jobseekers.

Equal Opportunity Clause

1. For those contractors that elect to incorporate the required Equal Opportunity (EO) clauses by reference, may the “incorporation by reference” clause required by 41 CFR 60-300.5(a) be combined with the “incorporation by reference” clause required by 41 CFR 60-741.5(a)?

Yes, contractors may combine these two EO “incorporation by reference” clauses provided that the combined clause is set in bold text and the prescribed content of both clauses is preserved. The following example provides one illustration of how this might be done:

This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-300.5(a) and 60-741.5(a). These regulations prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of protected veteran status or disability, and require affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

2. Are federal contractors permitted to combine all of the Equal Opportunity (EO) clauses required by 41 CFR 60-300.5(a), 41 CFR 60-741.5(a), and 41 CFR 60-1.4(a) (or for construction contractors, 41 CFR 60-4.3(a)) into a single, consolidated “incorporation by reference” clause?

Yes, contractors may combine all of their required EO clauses into a single “incorporation by reference” clause, provided that the entire combined clause is set in bold text and the prescribed content of the veteran and disability EO “incorporation by reference” clauses is preserved. The following example provides one illustration of how this might be done for a supply and service contractor:

This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-1.4(a), 60-300.5(a) and 60-741.5(a). These regulations prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals based on their status as protected veterans or individuals with disabilities, and prohibit discrimination against all individuals based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Moreover, these regulations require that covered prime contractors and subcontractors take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, protected veteran status or disability.

Reasonable Accommodation

1. Section 503, Appendix B, Developing Reasonable Accommodation Procedures, provides examples of “best practices” for these procedures. During an OFCCP audit, how many of these “best practices” will contractors be held accountable for adopting and implementing?

Contractors are not obligated to adopt and implement any of the practices found in Appendix B, unless they are required elsewhere in the regulations. Contractors are required to provide needed reasonable accommodations but they are not required to adopt the procedures as discussed in Appendix B. While not required to adopt written procedures, OFCCP certainly encourages contractors to do so. Such procedures would assist contractors in meeting their reasonable accommodation obligations.

Utilization Goals

1. Is there a minimum job group size for the 7% goal in Section 503?

No, there is no minimum job group size. However, OFCCP recognizes that small contractors may have difficulty applying the goal to their job groups based solely on their size. Therefore, the regulations allow contractors with 100 or fewer employees the option of applying the goal to their entire workforce instead of to their EO 11246 job groups.

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2. How should non-responses to the invitation to self-identify as an individual with a disability be treated when conducting the utilization analysis?

The regulations require contractors to conduct an annual utilization analysis to determine the representation of people with disabilities in each job group, or if it has 100 or fewer employees, in its workforce as a whole. To calculate the percentage of a job group (or workforce) that is comprised of people with disabilities contractors should use the same methodology used to calculate the percentage of a job group (or workforce) that is comprised of any other specific demographic group. Specifically, contractors should compare the number of individuals identified as having a disability to the total number of employees in the job group. Non-responses should be counted solely in the job group (or workforce) total, unless the contractor has actual knowledge that a particular non-responsive individual(s) has a disability. The contractor may count as an individual with a disability any individual who it actually knows to have a disability, whether or not the individual chose to self-identify.

OFCCP Posts Two New FAQs on Section 503 Self-Identification and Listing “Remote” Jobs: The VEVRAA FAQs Sheet (October 17, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

As part of its on-going effort to provide guidance to the contractor community, OFCCP has posted two new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). One FAQ addresses the ways in which contractors may store self-identification information in compliance with the revised Section 503 regulations, and provides several options. The other FAQ addresses how contractors may list jobs that are remote, full-time telework positions in compliance with VEVRAA’s mandatory job listing requirement.

These FAQs are available, along with other resources and guidance materials, on the OFCCP web site. Specifically:

The VEVRAA FAQs sheet provides the following:

General Information

1. Why did OFCCP revise its VEVRAA regulations?

OFCCP revised the VEVRAA regulations to update and strengthen contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination responsibilities. The framework articulating a contractor’s responsibilities with respect to affirmative action has remained unchanged since the VEVRAA implementing rules were first published in 1976. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of veterans are returning from tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the world, and many face substantial obstacles to finding employment upon leaving the service. Gulf War-era II veterans, in particular, have an unemployment rate far higher than the national average.

In 2012, according to BLS data on the employment situation of veterans for that year, about 2.6 million of the nation´s veterans had served during Gulf War-era II. The unemployment rate for this category of veterans was 9.9 percent, compared to nonveterans at 7.9 percent.
In this same year, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans age 18 to 24 was 20.0 percent, higher than the rate for nonveterans of the same age group (16.4 percent).

Several factors contribute to limiting the ability of veterans to seek, find, keep, and thrive in jobs. The existence of an outdated framework that does not reflect the realities of today’s workplace is one factor. Other factors include, bias or discrimination, the inability of employers to translate military skills and abilities, process and institutional barriers, and data collection issues. These all contribute to veterans being underutilized in the federal contractor workforce.

Addressing the barriers veterans face upon returning to civilian life is the focus of a number of federal efforts, including these revised VEVRAA regulations. The new regulations will help to ensure that contractors: list their jobs so that veterans can know about and apply for them; have the data they need to measure and tailor their outreach and recruitment of veterans; and take other necessary actions to employ and advance in employment these veterans. It also increases OFCCP’s flexibility in how it conducts compliance evaluations, which will lead to more effective and efficient enforcement of VEVRAA.

2. Did OFCCP change all of the VEVRAA regulations?

No, several VEVRAA requirements remain unchanged in the new regulations. OFCCP republished all of the VEVRAA implementing regulations when it published the Final Rule in the Federal Register, whether or not the individual regulation changed, to make the Final Rule easier to read and understand.

3. Do the new VEVRAA regulations differ from the regulations proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)?

Yes. OFCCP received more than 100 comments on the NPRM from contractors, veterans’ organizations, and others during the public comment period. In light of the comments, we made several changes to the proposed regulations. The resulting new regulations increase contractor accountability for compliance with their affirmative action obligations, but provide contractors with greater flexibility than the NPRM originally proposed.

4. Where can I get a copy of the new regulations?

The new VEVRAA regulations are available on the OFCCP Web site at www.dol.gov/ofccp/VEVRAARule, where you can read them as published in the Federal Register or as posted in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR).

5. Will the “EEO is the Law” poster be revised in light of the new regulations? If so, should contractors stop using the current poster now that the new regulations are effective?

It is likely that the “EEO is the Law” poster will be revised in light of changes in the new regulations; for example, the new poster will reflect the change in the terminology used to describe the veterans protected by VEVRAA. Even though OFCCP is working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to revise the poster, contractors should continue using the existing poster. OFCCP will post a notice on its Web site to let contractors know when the new poster is available for use.

Effective Date and Compliance Schedule

When did the new VEVRAA regulations become effective?

The new regulations became effective on March 24, 2014. Contractors should be in compliance with all elements of the new regulations, except for the new Affirmative Action Program requirements in Subpart C, as of this date. OFCCP is providing contractors with additional time to come into compliance with these Affirmative Action Program requirements, during which it will provide technical assistance to facilitate the transition for contractors.

March 24, 2014 fell in the middle of my company’s AAP year. When are we required to put in place a new AAP that complies with Subpart C of the new regulations?

Contractors with an AAP in place as of the effective date of the new regulations (March 24, 2014) may maintain that AAP until the end of their AAP year and delay their compliance with the AAP requirements of Subpart C of the new regulations until the start of their next AAP cycle. Contractors are nevertheless encouraged to begin updating their employment practices and IT systems to come into compliance with the revised requirements of Subpart C of the new regulations as soon as possible. In addition, contractors are reminded that they must be in compliance with the other requirements of the new regulations, in subparts A, B, D and E, as of the effective date.

Overview of the New VEVRAA Regulations

1. Why did OFCCP rescind the VEVRAA regulations in 41 CFR Part 60-250?

The Part 60-250 regulations applied only to contracts entered into before December 1, 2003, and not since modified. OFCCP believes that all such contracts have either expired, or been modified so that they are now covered under the 41 CFR Part 60-300 regulations. There is, therefore, no longer a need for the Part 60-250 regulations.

However, out of an abundance of caution that a contract falling under Part 60-250 coverage may still exist, the new VEVRAA regulations provide for the continuing protection from discrimination for any veteran who would have been protected under Part 60-250 had it not been rescinded, but is not currently protected under Part 60-300. The new regulations refer to these veterans as “pre-JVA veterans,” and permit them to file discrimination complaints under the Part 60-300 regulations.

2. What changes do the new VEVRAA regulations make to the definitions section of the regulations?

The new VEVRAA regulations make several changes to the definitions section of the regulations:

A definition of “protected veteran” has been added to provide a comprehensive term to refer to any veteran that is protected under the VEVRAA regulations;

The term “other protected veteran” has been replaced with the more accurate and specific term “active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran” to describe that group of protected veterans. These are veterans that served on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, under the laws administered by the Department of Defense;
A definition of “pre-JVA veteran” has been added to denote the groups of veterans previously protected under the now rescinded Part 60-250;
“Director” replaces the term “Deputy Assistant Secretary” to reflect the current title of the head of OFCCP;
Additional information regarding the Wagner-Peyser Act has been added to the definition of “employment service delivery system” for clarification; and
The definitions have been rearranged into alphabetical order, which will make the definitions section easier to use.

3. Tell me more about the new requirement to establish a hiring benchmark. What does my company have to do to establish its benchmark?

The new VEVRAA regulations require that each contractor who is required to develop a written affirmative action program (AAP) also establish a hiring benchmark for protected veterans each year. This benchmark is a tool to help contractors assess the effectiveness of their efforts to recruit and employ protected veterans. A contractor may establish its hiring benchmark in one of two ways:

A contractor may establish a benchmark equal to the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force, as posted in the Benchmark Database on the OFCCP Web site; or
A contractor may establish its own benchmark by taking into account the following five factors:

the average percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force in the state where the contractor is located over the preceding three years, as posted in the Benchmark Database on the OFCCP Web site;
the number of veterans , over the previous four quarters, who participated in the employment service delivery system in the state where the contractor is located, as posted in the Benchmark Database on the OFCCP Web site;
the applicant and hiring ratios for the previous year;
the contractor’s recent assessments of the effectiveness of its outreach and recruitment efforts; and
any other factors, such as the nature of the job or its location, that would affect the availability of qualified protected veterans.
Contractors must maintain records related to their benchmark for three years, allowing them to assess the success of their outreach and recruitment efforts for veterans over time.

4. Does my company have to apply our hiring benchmark to each of our Executive Order job groups?

No. Contractors may apply their hiring benchmark to each of their job groups, but the new VEVRAA regulations do not require them to do so.

5. Is the hiring benchmark a “goal”?

No, the hiring benchmark in VEVRAA functions differently from the “goals” expressed in the Executive Order 11246 regulations and the new Section 503 regulations. The hiring benchmark in VEVRAA provides a yardstick against which contractors can measure the success of their efforts to recruit and employ qualified protected veterans. A goal, on the other hand, not only serves as a yardstick to measure the success of outreach and recruitment efforts, but it also provides an equal opportunity objective, based on the availability of members of the protected group in the labor force, that should be attainable if the contractor complies with its affirmative action program. In contrast, the only data regarding veteran availability in the labor force encompasses all veterans, and is broader than the subset of veterans who are protected by VEVRAA. Therefore, such data could not be used as the basis for establishing an availability-based goal.

6. What changes do the new VEVRAA regulations make to the contractor’s obligations to invite applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran?

The new VEVRAA regulations require contractors to invite applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran prior to making a job offer, in addition to the post-offer self-identification that is already required. OFCCP added this requirement so that contractors can track the number of protected veterans who apply for jobs and use this data to assess the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The pre-offer invitation to self-identify may be included in the contractors’ application materials. After making a job offer to an applicant, the new regulations retain the obligation that contractors invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify as belonging to any of the specific categories of protected veteran (e.g., recently separated veteran; disabled veteran) on which the contractor is required to report by the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). Appendix B of the new VEVRAA regulations includes a sample invitation to self-identify that contractors may choose to use. You can find the sample invitations on the OFCCP Web site.

7. When should my company invite pre-offer self-identification from applicants? Is the timing the same for Internet applicants?

The new VEVRAA regulations permit contractors to invite applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran at the same time that the contractor collects demographic data regarding race, gender, and ethnicity from applicants, as required by Executive Order 11246. Under Executive Order 11246, the Internet Applicant Rule generally allows contractors to screen out individuals whom they believe do not meet the basic qualifications for the position prior to collecting demographic data regarding race, gender, and ethnicity. In order to harmonize VEVRAA’s pre-offer invitation to self-identify requirement with Executive Order 11246’s Internet Applicant recordkeeping provisions, OFCCP will permit contractors to invite applicants to self-identify after they meet the Internet Applicant requirements, including the basic qualification screen.

When designing basic qualification screens, contractors should be mindful of the requirements that VEVRAA places on the use of qualification standards and selection criteria, including the use of “basic qualification” screens. VEVRAA prohibits contractors from using qualification standards and selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out a disabled or other protected veteran or a class of disabled or other protected veterans unless the contractor can show that the standards or criteria are job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. Moreover, contractors may not use selection criteria that relate to the performance of an essential function of the job to exclude a disabled veteran if that person could satisfy the criteria with a reasonable accommodation.

8. Do the new VEVRAA regulations make changes to the mandatory job listing requirement?

The new regulations clarify what contractors must do to satisfy the job listing requirement set forth in the VEVRAA statute. They require the contractor to provide additional identifying information to the appropriate employment service delivery system (ESDS) when listing its job openings. Specifically, the new regulations codify OFCCP’s longstanding policy that the contractor must provide its job listing information in a format that is permitted by the appropriate employment ESDS. This means, for example, that if the ESDS requires electronic transmission through a Web-based form, the contractor must provide its job listings in this way. If the ESDS will accept job listings electronically, by facsimile or by mail, then the contractor may provide its job listings in any of these formats. In addition, a contractor must indicate on its job listings that it is a federal contractor – for example by noting “VEVRAA Federal Contractor” on its listing – and its desire for priority referrals of protected veterans for its openings. The contractor must also provide the contact information for the contractor official responsible for hiring at each hiring location who can verify the information in the job listing. This official may be a chief hiring official, an HR contact, a senior management contact, or any other appropriate official.

9. Do the new VEVRAA regulations still permit my company to incorporate the Equal Opportunity (EO) Clause into subcontracts by reference?

Yes. Contractors can incorporate the EO Clause into subcontracts by reference but only by citing the regulations, 41 CFR 60-300.5(a), AND including the following sentences in bold text immediately following the citation:

This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-300.5(a). This regulation prohibits discrimination against qualified protected veterans, and requires affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans.

10. Can a contractor satisfy its obligation to post a notice informing applicants and employees of their EEO rights by posting the notice electronically?

When a contractor has employees who do not work at its physical location, the contractor can satisfy its posting obligation by posting the EEO notice in electronic format. To have the ability to use electronic postings to satisfy this obligation, a contractor must either provide these employees with computers that can access the electronic posting or the contractor must have actual knowledge that the electronically posted notice is otherwise accessible to these employees. Contractors must post electronic notices for employees in a in a conspicuous location and format on the company’s Intranet or send them to employees by electronic mail (i.e., email). If the contractor uses an electronic application process, it must post an electronic notice to inform job applicants of their EEO rights. Electronic notices for applicants must be conspicuously stored with, or as part of, the electronic application. In addition, in individual instances, a contractor may have to provide a notice of EEO rights electronically as a form of reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee, even if the employee works at the contractor´s physical location.

11. Do the new VEVRAA regulations change the requirements concerning the equal opportunity employer statement that is included in all solicitations and advertisements for employees?

Yes. The new regulations require a contractor to state in its solicitations and advertisements that it is an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans. Contractors can do this by simply adding “veteran status” or something similar to its existing equal opportunity employer statement.

12. What changes do the new VEVRAA regulations make to the VEVRAA data collection requirements?

The previous VEVRAA regulations did not provide for any structured collection of data regarding the number of protected veteran who apply for jobs. This lack of data made it nearly impossible for a contractor to evaluate the availability of protected veterans in its applicant pool or workforce, or to assess the effectiveness of its outreach and recruitment efforts at attracting protected veteran candidates. To fill this data void, the new regulations require contractors to document and update the following comparisons and information regarding applicants and employees annually.
With respect to applicants:

the number of protected veteran applicants;
the total number of job openings and the number of jobs filled; and
the total number of applicants for all jobs.
With respect to employees:
the total number of protected veteran applicants hired; and
the total number of applicants hired

This will provide contractors with meaningful data to use in evaluating and tailoring their recruitment and outreach efforts. Contractors must maintain this information for three years, to allow them to assess the success of their outreach and recruitment efforts for veterans over time.

13. Do the new VEVRAA regulations change the requirement that contractors design and implement an audit and reporting system for their affirmative action program?

OFCCP always intended that contractors document the actions they take to comply with the requirement to design and implement an audit and reporting system. The new regulations make this intention explicit by requiring that contractors document these actions and retain these documents as employment records.

14. Do the new VEVRAA regulations change the requirements for conducting outreach and recruitment?

The new regulations provide examples of outreach and recruitment activities, but retain the flexibility for contractors to choose and utilize the outreach and recruitment activities that work best for them. To determine whether the chosen methods of outreach and recruitment have been successful, the new regulations require that contractors annually assess their outreach and recruitment efforts and document this evaluation. The evaluation must include the criteria the contractor used to evaluate the effectiveness of each effort and the contractor´s conclusion as to whether each effort was effective. If the contractor concludes that totality of its efforts were not effective in identifying and recruiting qualified protected veterans, it must implement alternative outreach and recruitment methods. Contractors must retain their evaluations for three years, to allow them to assess the success of their outreach and recruitment efforts for veterans over time.

15. How do the new regulations change the VEVRAA recordkeeping requirements?

To enable contractors to assess the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment activities over time, the new regulations add a requirement that certain types of records are to be maintained for three years.

These records are:

Evaluations of outreach and recruitment efforts (41 CFR 60-300.44(f));
Records pertaining to the data collection of comparisons regarding applicants and employees (41 CFR 60-300.44(k)); and
Records related to the hiring benchmark requirement (41 CFR 60-300.45).

16. Do the new VEVRAA regulations change the contractor’s obligation to conduct a review of physical and mental job qualification standards?

No. The new regulations retain the regulatory requirement for “periodic” reviews so no new or different obligations are created for contractors. OFCCP has identified some best practices, or examples, for reviewing job qualification standards. One example is reviewing physical and mental qualification standards prior to posting or filling a job position/opening, if the contractor has not reviewed the standards for that job within the past year; and whenever the physical or mental qualifications standards of a job change, regardless of when the contractor last reviewed that position’s standards.

17. Do the new VEVRAA regulations update how compliance officers conduct compliance evaluations?

Yes. It has long been OFCCP’s practice to obtain information pertinent to the evaluation for periods after the date of the scheduling letter. The new regulations codify this position by stating that OFCCP may extend the temporal scope of an evaluation and examine information after the date of the compliance evaluation scheduling letter, if OFCCP deems it necessary to carry out its investigation of potential VEVRAA violations. The new regulations also state that, upon request, the contractor must inform OFCCP of the format(s) in which it maintains its records and other information (e.g., Word; pdf; Excel), and provide the records and information to OFCCP in the available format(s) OFCCP selects. In addition, the new regulations state that OFCCP may request that the contractor provide documents either on-site or off-site during compliance checks and that OFCCP may conduct focused reviews both on-site and off-site. Finally, the new regulations add a pre-award compliance evaluation procedure like the one contained in the Executive Order 11246 regulations.

Compliance Assistance and Education

1. How can I contact OFCCP if I have questions about the new VEVRAA regulations?

You may call OFCCP Toll-Free at 1-800-397-6251 (TTY: 1-877-889-5627) or contact us by email at OFCCP-Public@dol.gov. You may also contact the field office nearest you for assistance. To locate your nearest office visit our on-line OFCCP office directory at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/contacts/ofnation2.htm.

2. Does OFCCP provide technical assistance for contractors on the new VEVRAA requirements?

Yes. OFCCP conducted a series of training webinars to help federal contractors comply with the new regulations, the recordings of which are available on the OFCCP website at www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/final_rules_webinars.htm. Future training webinars on the new regulations will also be announced on this webpage.

In addition, OFCCP has compiled resources to support federal contractor compliance with the new regulations, which are available on the OFCCP website at www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/Resources.htm.

Implementation Questions

In General

UPDATE

1. Does the revised Scheduling Letter request data and information required in the new VEVRAA regulations?

Yes. Effective October 1, 2014, OMB approved a revised Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing specifying the documents and data that a contractor must provide to OFCCP when selected for a compliance evaluation. These include the contractor’s VEVRAA Affirmative Action Program (AAP), and the documentation and information required by Subpart C of the new regulations, including but not limited to the contractor’s annually established hiring benchmark, evaluation of outreach and recruitment efforts, and the data described in § 60-300.44(k).

2. The revised regulations require that the “EEO is the Law” poster be made available in a “form that is accessible and understandable” to individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans, such as Braille or large print. Must contractors maintain Braille and/or large print versions of the poster at all locations?

Providing the “EEO is the Law” poster in an alternate format, such as large print or Braille, is a form of reasonable accommodation. Therefore, contractors must make the poster available in such an alternate format only when an applicant or employee requests the poster in an alternate format, or when the contractor knows that an applicant or employee is unable to read the poster because of a disability. Contractors may also provide the poster to an applicant or employee with a disability in other alternate formats, such as on disc or in an audio recording, so long as the format provided enables the individual with a disability to access the contents of the poster.

3. The revised regulations require contractors to “conspicuously store” the “EEO is the Law” poster with, or as part of, an electronic application. Does this mean that an actual physical or electronic copy of the poster must be individually stored with each application?

The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that applicants who apply for jobs electronically are informed of their equal employment opportunity protections as part of the application process. Although including a copy of the poster with every electronic application will satisfy the requirement, the regulations do not require contractors to do this. Rather, a contractor may choose to satisfy this requirement in any way that ensures that every electronic applicant has the opportunity to view the poster during the application process, such as by displaying a prominent link to the poster, along with a brief explanation of what the link connects to, as part of their electronic application.

4. When will the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) be updated to reflect the new Section 503 and VEVRAA requirements?

Updating the FAR is a separate process that is currently underway through the FAR Council. OFCCP is being consulted during that process and is working to ensure that updates to the FAR reflect Section 503 and VEVRAA requirements. It is not yet clear when these FAR revisions will be completed and the new FAR will be published. You may want to check with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council at https://acquisition.gov/far/.

Compliance Schedule

1. What do contractors with AAPs in place under the old regulations need to do as of the effective date of the new VEVRAA regulations (March 24, 2014) to ensure that their first AAPs under the new regulations are as compliant as possible?

As a contractor, you may delay compliance with the AAP requirements of Subpart C until your first AAP is due following the March 24, 2014, effective date. This includes the revised self-identification elements in 60-300.42. While you are allowed to delay compliance with Subpart C until the start of your first post-effective date AAP, OFCCP does not encourage this approach. However, should you choose not to comply with Subpart C until your first post-effective date AAP, you must ensure that your existing AAP complies with all the requirements of the old regulations, including the self-identification requirements of the previous regulations.

OFCCP recommends that all contractors begin complying with Subpart C of the new regulations prior to the issuance of their first AAP under the new rules, and strongly encourages contractors to take these steps as soon as practicable. To begin coming into compliance, OFCCP recommends that, to the extent practicable, contractors:

Invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify as being a protected veteran at the pre-offer stage, and as belonging to one or more of the specific categories of protected veteran the contractor is required to report pursuant to 41 CFR 61-300 (60-741.42);
Include an EO policy statement in the AAP that shows top executive support for their AAPs (60-300.44(a));
Assess and document the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts annually (60-300.44(f)(3));
Ensure that outreach and recruitment efforts are documented and retained (60-300.44(f)(4));
Document actions taken to comply with the audit and reporting system obligations (60-300.44(h));
Train employees engaged in key personnel activities (60-300.44(j));
Conduct data analysis by calculating data related to applicants and hires (60-300.44(k)); and
Establish, document and begin applying an annual hiring benchmark for each establishment (60-300.45)).

In addition, contractors must ensure full compliance with the requirements under the old regulations, including reviewing personnel practices (60-300.44(b)), reviewing job qualifications (60-300.44(c)), making reasonable accommodations available (60-300.44(d)), developing harassment policies (60-300.44(e)), engaging in outreach (60-300.44(f)), and having procedures for distributing information on EO and affirmative action efforts (60-300.44(g)).

An early start implementing the new regulations’ Subpart C affirmative action program requirements gives contractors time to identify issues or challenges, and to seek technical assistance from OFCCP prior to the due date of their first AAP under the new regulations. This makes for a more robust first year AAP plan under the new regulations.

2. What new elements should be included in the first AAP under the new VEVRAA regulations, that is, after the effective date (March 24, 2014)?

Your first AAP under the new regulations should address all elements of Subpart C. Ideally, a contractor’s first AAP under the new rules should include, as best as possible, all of the elements of Subpart C, including:

Evidence that the contractor is complying with the requirements to invite voluntary self-identification per 60-300.42;
The inclusion of an equal opportunity policy statement per 60-300.44(a);
A review of the contractor’s personnel processes per 60-300.44(b);
A schedule for the review of all physical and mental job qualification standards and evidence that it adheres to that schedule per 60-300.44(c);
Information relating to the procedures developed and implemented ensuring that employees are not harassed because of their protected veteran status per 60-300.44(e);
A review and assessment of the contractor’s outreach and recruitment efforts per 60-300.44(f);
Documentation of all activities taken to comply with the obligations of 60-300.44 per 60-300.44(f)(4);
Documentation that the contractor has implemented and disseminated its commitment to affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans per 60-300.44(g);
Evidence that the contractor has designed and implemented an audit and reporting system per 60-300.44(h);
Identification of the individual assigned responsibility for the implementation of the contractor’s AAP and evidence of compliance with 60-300.44(i);
Data collection pursuant to 60-300.44(k);
Documentation that it established and applied an annual hiring benchmark per 60-300.45.

For each element required by Subpart C, the contractor’s first AAP should:

Address everything that the contractor has done to comply with the elements of Subpart C that are not new;
Address everything that the contractor has done to come into compliance with the new provisions of Subpart C that took effect on March 24, 2014; and
To the extent that the contractor is not yet in full compliance with the new provisions of Subpart C, discuss the steps that it plans to take to come into compliance.

OFCCP understands that the first AAP is a transitional one for contractors.

Therefore, a contractor will NOT be found in violation of the new Subpart C, so long as it can demonstrate that it has acted reasonably, in light of its particular circumstances.

Data Collection Analysis

1. The data collection requirements in section 60-300.44(k)(2) of the new VEVRAA regulations require contractors to document “the total number of job openings and total number of jobs filled.” Does the “total number of openings” refer to the number of requisitions or job vacancy announcements, or to the number of individual open positions referenced in the requisitions or announcements?

The total number of job openings refers to the number of individual positions advertised as open in a job vacancy announcement or requisition. For example, if one job vacancy announcement or requisition includes 5 open positions and results in 4 hires, the contractor would document this as 5 job openings and 4 jobs filled.

2. The data collection requirements in section 60-300.44(k) also ask contractors to report the number of jobs “filled” (60-300.44(k)(2)) and those “hired” (60-300.44(k)(4) and (5)). How does the number of “jobs filled” differ from the number of people “hired?”

In the context of the data collection requirements of 60-300.44(k), jobs “filled” refers to all jobs the company filled by any means, be it through a competitive process or non-competitively, e.g., through reassignment or merit promotion. It, therefore, should take into account both new hires into the company and those employees who were placed into new positions via promotions, transfers, and reassignments. In contrast, the number of those “hired” refers solely to those applicants (both internal and external to the contractor) who are hired through a competitive process, including promotions.

3. Does the number of “jobs filled” include step or ladder movements that are automatically attained upon completion of a stated event, such as time in the job or attainment of a particular certification?

Both competitive and non-competitive movements may qualify as “jobs filled,” so long as the movement is one into a different position, rather than simply a movement within the same position. This will necessarily be a fact-based determination. So, for example, a time-driven salary increase from one “step” to the next within the same position would not be a “job filled,” since there was not any movement into a new position. By contrast, if an apprentice completes a certification program and moves into a journeyman position, then such movement would be a “job filled,” since it is a movement from one position to another.

4. Can a contractor’s existing human resources information system (HRIS) and/or applicant tracking system (ATS) serve as the “data analysis file” in which veteran self-identification must be stored?

Contractors may use their existing human resources information systems or applicant tracking systems as the data analysis file repositories for the veteran self-identification data collected pursuant to the new regulations, provided that certain criteria are met. Specifically, the veteran status-related data must be stored securely, apart from other personnel information, so that confidentiality is maintained, and access to this data must be limited solely to contractor personnel who have a need to know the information for the purpose of complying with OFCCP’s regulations. Veteran self-identification data must not be kept with the employee’s confidential medical file.

Job Listing

NEW
1. How should contractors list job openings for “remote jobs,” that is, jobs that are full-time telework positions from any location, in order to comply with VEVRAA’s job listing requirement?

VEVRAA requires that contractors list all employment openings which exist at the time of the execution of the contract, and which occur during the performance of the contract, with the appropriate employment service delivery system (ESDS) where the opening occurs. Typically, the location of a job opening, or where a job opening “occurs,” is the location to which the employee must report for work. For a job opening that does not require the employee to report to, or work from, a specific location, a contractor may satisfy the job listing requirement by listing the job opening with the state or local ESDS where the work unit, division, department or supervisor to which the employee will report or be assigned is located.

Self-Identification

1. If an individual self-identifies as a protected veteran at the pre-offer stage of the application process, but does not self-identify again at the post-offer stage, may a contractor still count the individual as a protected veteran for purposes of applying the hiring benchmark and performing the required data collection analysis?

Section 60-300.42 of the new VEVRAA regulations requires contractors to invite applicants to self-identify as “protected veterans” at both the pre-offer and post-offer stages of the application process. If an applicant self-identifies as a “protected veteran” at the pre-offer stage but not at the post-offer stage, the contractor may identify the new hire as a “protected veteran” for purposes of compliance with the new VEVRAA regulations.

Hiring Benchmarks

1. Should a contractor apply the VEVRAA hiring benchmark to all of its establishments, to each establishment separately, or to each job group at each establishment?

The VEVRAA hiring benchmark – whether based on the national percentage of veterans per 60-300.45(b)(1) or the five-factor approach in 60-300.45(b)(2) – should be applied to hiring for each establishment separately.

2. Is it acceptable for a contractor to set different benchmarks for each of its establishments? For example, may a contractor set the benchmark for one of its establishments using the national percentage of veterans (per 60-300.45(b)(1)) and for another of its establishments using the five-factor analysis (per 60-300.45(b)(2))?

Yes. Each contractor is free to use either of the two methods specified in the Final Rule to establish the benchmark for each of its establishments.

3. When applying the hiring benchmark, should contractors use the same definition of “hires” that is used for purposes of the data collection analysis required by 60-300.44(k)?

Yes. Since neither the new regulations, nor its preamble, specify a different definition of “hires” for the VEVRAA hiring benchmark, contractors should use the definition of hires that is applicable to the data collection analysis obligation. That definition encompasses those applicants (both internal and external to the contractor) who are hired through a competitive process, including promotions. This will ensure consistency in the interpretations of these key provisions of the new regulations.

Vacancy Announcement Tagline

May contractors satisfy the EEO tagline requirement by abbreviating “disability” and “protected veteran status” as “D” and “V,” respectively?

Contractors may refer to those protected by Section 503 or VEVRAA by abbreviation, but such abbreviations must be commonly understood by those seeking employment. Simply using “D” and “V” are not adequate abbreviations for this reason. For those protected by Section 503 or VEVRAA, the tagline should at a minimum state “disability” and “vet” so that the tagline will be clearly understood by jobseekers.

Equal Opportunity Clause

1. For those contractors that elect to incorporate the required Equal Opportunity (EO) clauses by reference, may the “incorporation by reference” clause required by 41 CFR 60-300.5(a) be combined with the “incorporation by reference” clause required by 41 CFR 60-741.5(a)?

Yes, contractors may combine these two EO “incorporation by reference” clauses provided that the combined clause is set in bold text and the prescribed content of both clauses is preserved. The following example provides one illustration of how this might be done:

This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-300.5(a) and 60-741.5(a). These regulations prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of protected veteran status or disability, and require affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

2. Are federal contractors permitted to combine all of the Equal Opportunity (EO) clauses required by 41 CFR 60-300.5(a), 41 CFR 60-741.5(a), and 41 CFR 60-1.4(a) (or for construction contractors, 41 CFR 60-4.3(a)) into a single, consolidated “incorporation by reference” clause?

Yes, contractors may combine all of their required EO clauses into a single “incorporation by reference” clause, provided that the entire combined clause is set in bold text and the prescribed content of the veteran and disability EO “incorporation by reference” clauses is preserved. The following example provides one illustration of how this might be done for a supply and service contractor:

This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-1.4(a), 60-300.5(a) and 60-741.5(a). These regulations prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals based on their status as protected veterans or individuals with disabilities, and prohibit discrimination against all individuals based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Moreover, these regulations require that covered prime contractors and subcontractors take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, protected veteran status or disability.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (October 11, 2014)

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Assistant Secretary Martinez Featured in Unite Magazine

Unite magazine, a bi-monthly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) business publication, featured Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez in an article “Working Together to Promote Inclusive Workplaces” in its October/November issue. Martinez talked about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, saying “A strong workforce is an inclusive workforce.” The article discussed the connections between the disability community and the LGBT community, particularly in the area of employment.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Time-Limited Non-Enforcement Policy for the Home Care Final Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Final Rule amending regulations regarding domestic service employment, 78 FR 60454, October 1, 2013, which extends Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections to most home care workers, will become effective on January 1, 2015. DOL has published a Federal Register Notice announcing that it will adopt a time-limited non-enforcement policy regarding the Final Rule. For six months, from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015, DOL will not bring enforcement actions against any employer who fails to comply with an FLSA obligation newly imposed by the rule. During the subsequent six months, from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015, DOL will exercise its discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions, giving strong consideration to the extent to which states and other entities have made good faith efforts to bring their home care programs into FLSA compliance. Throughout 2015, DOL will continue to provide intensive technical assistance to the community.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Posters Appear in Washington, DC Metro Stations

The 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) posters are showing up at various Metro stations throughout the Washington, DC area. You can find them at the Archives, Benning Road, Capitol Heights, Cheverly, and Cleveland Park stations. If you spy one, take a photo and tweet it using #NDEAM!

Nominations Due October 14, 2014 for Participation in Advisory Committee on Competitive Integrated Employment

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities is a key part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2014 to help job seekers — including those with disabilities — access the services they need to succeed in employment and match employers with skilled workers. The committee is mandated by Section 609 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by section 461 of WIOA. The committee consists of both federal officials and private citizens from specific groups identified in the WIOA legislation. People interested in being nominated for the committee are encouraged to review the Federal Register Notice and submit the requested information by October 14, 2014. Questions about the committee can be submitted via e-mail to IntegratedCompetitiveEmployment@dol.gov. For further details visit the Advisory Committee web page.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research Includes Disability Employment Policy Topic Area

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research (CLEAR) is designed to make research on labor topics more accessible to practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and the general public so that it can inform their decisions about labor policies and programs. CLEAR now features a Disability Employment Policy topic area that focuses on research determining which programs have been most effective at improving direct labor market outcomes such as employment and earnings; improving education and health status, which may affect a person’s ability to work; and decreasing federal disability.

Federal Partners Committee on Women and Trauma Presents Webinar on Culturally Specific Approaches to Trauma and Domestic Violence — October 27, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT

Research has shown that the impact of experiencing multiple forms of trauma and abuse throughout one’s lifetime is significantly higher among multiracial, African American, Latina, Asian and Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaska Native women. This webinar will feature speakers from national and culturally specific community-based organizations who will discuss key considerations for implementing trauma-informed domestic violence services as they relate to the ethnic, racial, cultural, and lingual diversity of victims of domestic violence from underserved and historically marginalized communities. The webinar will highlight culturally specific trauma-informed approaches to both individual and collective trauma, violence, and abuse as well as a framework for thinking about trauma in the context of cumulative burden, ongoing risk and coercive control.