On August 27, 2013, the Department of Labor announced two (2) final rules that affect federal contractors. The rules are designed to increase employment opportunities for veterans under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (“VEVRAA”) and those individuals with disabilities who have protection under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 503”).
These two laws were passed by Congress more than 40 years ago, and have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train, and promote veterans and people with disabilities who are qualified to perform the work. However, the Department of Labor has not updated its rules regarding these two statutes for some time.
The new VEVRAA rule now provides to federal contractors a quantifiable metric in order to measure success in recruiting and employing Veterans by requiring these contractors to adopt on an annual basis a benchmark based on either the national percentage of Veterans in the workplace (which is currently 8%) or their own benchmark that is based on the best available data. There are stricter accountability and recordkeeping requirements.
The new Section 503 rule now provides for a hiring goal. The new hiring goal is seven percent (7%) of each job group should be individuals with disabilities who are qualified to perform the required work. There are also new affirmative action guidelines in recruitment, training, recordkeeping, and policy dissemination.
These new rules will become effective 180 days after they are published in the federal register, which is expected to be accomplished very shortly. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) will be responsible for the enforcement of these two new rules. The OFCCP has provided a toll free help line at 800-397-6251 for additional information. Additional information can also be obtained at www.dol.gov/ofccp/.