Is your company a government contractor? If so, you have no doubt heard about one of the new rules the OFCCP (Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs) announced in August 2013. One of the changes are those to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 503 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities. Referred to by the DOL as IWD’s, the requirements include employers take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote and retain IWD’s (individuals with disabilities).
When the proposed changes to Section 503 were announced back in 2011, the proposal included the requirement for government contractors to have a written Reasonable Accommodation policy in place as part of their Affirmative Action Program. The required process would include:
- Written confirmation of reasonable accommodation (RA) requests;
- Time frame or processing of RA requests;
- When medical documentation may be sought;
- Denials in writing including the basis for denial and;
- Responsible company official name and contact information.
When the final rule was announced in September 2013, the requirement to have a written Reasonable Accommodation policy was not included. So as far as being in compliance a written policy is not required. But wait, not so fast…
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a speaking engagement featuring Debra Carr, Director, Division of Policy, Planning and Program Development, Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs. I was very excited to have the opportunity to hear her speak. During the Q&A session I asked Debra about the requirement being omitted from the final rule and did she think it is necessary for contractors to have a written policy. Her answer was an emphatic “yes”, contractors while not obligated per the new rules, should have a written policy.
The new rules take effect March 24, 2014. Is your RA Policy in place?