The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) new rules will go into effect on March 24, 2014. Both rules increase the affirmative action requirements of direct federal contractors and subcontractors with regard to veterans and individuals with disabilities (IWD).
The veterans rule, which updates regulations implementing the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), prohibits discrimination and requires contractors with contracts valuing $100,000 or more to take affirmative action in all personnel practices regarding covered veterans. In addition, covered contractors or subcontractors with 50 or more employees are required to develop and maintain a written VEVRAA affirmative action program.
The disabilities rule, which updates regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503), prohibits discrimination and requires contractors to take affirmative action in all personnel practices for qualified IWDs. These requirements apply to contractors and subcontractors with a covered federal contract or subcontract valued in excess of $10,000. In addition, covered contractors and subcontractors with contracts valued at $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees must develop and maintain a written Section 503 affirmative action program.
Both rules require contractors to offer applicants the opportunity to self-identify as a protected veteran and/or IWD both pre- and post-offer. In addition, the Section 503 regulations require contractors to initially extend the offer to self-identify as an IWD to existing employees within one year of the regulation’s effective date and then again once every five years. Within the five year period, contractors must remind employees of their ability to self-identify as an IWD at anytime, should their disability status change. To comply, contractors must use the newly released Section 503 Self ID Form. For applicants or employees who don’t self-identify as an IWD, contractors may identify a person’s disability status if it is known or obvious, as is done under Executive Order 11246 with regard to race and gender.
For the Veterans rule, while sample invitations are available for contractors to use should they choose to, contractors are not required to use them. But contractors who choose to use a different form must ensure that the format used meets the criteria in the rule.
Contractors eager to learn how to comply with the requirements of the new rules in their entirety are encouraged to read AGC’s Affirmative Action Manual for Construction, published after the rules were final. For additional compliance assistance, review AGC’s recently recorded webinar on the rules, OFCCP’s Disability and Veterans Rules: What They Mean for Federal Construction Contractors. Information can also be found in the Labor and HR Topical Resources section of the AGC website. The primary category is “EEO” and the secondary category is “Affirmative Action/EEO.”