Did you happen to hear the news story last week about the young man who was applying for a job with Staples via the web and was shocked to have received a questionnaire offering him the opportunity to disclose if he is an individual with a disability? As a Human Resource professional with a background in government contracting compliance I knew exactly why the opportunity to disclose was given to the applicant, and quite frankly I was not at all surprised the applicant was not aware of the new requirements in place for government contractors. But I began to wonder how many of the employees working for government contractors are unaware of these new regulations.
Government contractors with 50 employees and $50,000 in government contracts are required to have an Affirmative Action Program in place which includes a formal written plan with analysis and established annual hiring goals based on that analysis. Currently the analysis and annual goals are only established for females and minorities. With the new recordkeeping requirements in place, government contractors will now have to establish hiring goals for individuals with disabilities. For those employers with 100 employees or less, a companywide goal for hiring individuals with a disability will become part of the Affirmative Action plan. For those employers with more than 100 employees the hiring goal for individuals with disabilities must be applied to each Job Group within the Affirmative Action Plan.
So how do government contractors collect disability information about their workforce or those interested in becoming part of their workforce? The answer lies in the Staples story I mentioned above. Effective March 24, 2014 government contractors are required to offer all applicants an opportunity to disclose whether or not they are an individual with a disability. This information will become part of the applicant flow data and will be used to help analyze and determine if there is discrimination indicated in the hiring processes of government contractors.
To be in compliance impacted employers are required to include in all job postings a tagline indicating the organization invites all applicants to apply, including those with a disability. The updated regulations stipulate the information must be provided in a way that all jobseekers will understand, and recommend using the word “Disability” in the tagline as opposed to abbreviating the disability category with a capital “D”. That is a subtle but impactful change to note.
With all of the new recordkeeping regulations in place, I encourage all targeted employers to review their Affirmative Action Program. The old saying “set the tone at the top” should be heeded. Talk to the HR professionals in place at your organization today and make sure you are in compliance. If you need clarification on any of the points above, feel free to contact me directly at 703-860-3882 X139.