Attention Government Contractors!
Are you a government contractor? Has your organization been subject to an OFCCP audit in the last 18 months? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you are familiar with the requirements associated with being an Affirmative Action employer, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Specifically, Section 503 of the Act requires that employers with federal contracts in excess of $10,000 take steps to hire, retain and promote qualified individuals with disabilities. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance (otherwise known as the OFCCP) is the governing body that enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Did you know that the OFCCP has made formal notice to the public (NPRM — Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) of proposed changes to Section 503? The proposed changes include the use of words such as "shall" and "must" in the requirements government contractors must adhere to in order to maintain their existing relationships with the federal government.
What does this mean for you? The proposed changes require:
- Annual review of personnel/hiring processes
- Mandatory outreach efforts including entering into three linkage agreements with organizations such as EARN, SSA agencies and/or disabled veterans service organizations
- Establishment of a national utilization goal of 7% for each job group in the workforce to be individuals with disabilities
- Development and implementation of a Reasonable Accommodation Requests procedure that will become part of the Affirmative Action Plan for the organization
- Increased data collection and reporting, including ratio of job applicants with disabilities to all applicants, and ratio of individuals with disabilities hired to all hires
- Invitation to individuals to self-identify must be made pre-offer and post-offer
- A resurvey of employees using post-offer language must be conducted on an annual basis
The OFCCP will review and analyze the comments submitted to assist in developing the Final Rule on Section 503 which is estimated to be finalized by Fall 2012. As an Affirmative Action employer, you are encouraged to ensure you mitigate any risk involving your federal contract status.