On September 24, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published two rules that impose new affirmative action obligations for veterans and individuals with disabilities. These rules, issued under VEVRAA (Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, create significant new burdens for covered federal contractors and subcontractors.
The Department of Labor says the rules are necessary to combat the disproportionately high unemployment rates for disabled persons and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The rules are also intended to increase the diversity of worker pools available to government contractors.
Historically, affirmative action plans (AAPs) have included statistical analyses and placement goals only for women and minorities. AAPs for veterans and the disabled have consisted solely of narrative statements. Now, that is changing. Some of the primary new requirements include:
- An annual hiring “benchmark” for veterans, based on either the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (presently 8%), or the best available data for the establishment;
- A 7% aspirational utilization goal for individuals with disabilities; and
- A pre-offer invitation to applicants to identify as veteran and disabled.
The effective deadline for the new obligations, which include data collection and recordkeeping components, is March 24, 2014. But, contractors with AAPs already in place on that date can retain them until the end of their current AAP year, deferring compliance with the new AAP requirements until their next plan year begins.