The U.S. Department of Labor has announced two final rules intended to improve hiring and employment of veterans and for people with disabilities. One rule updates requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) of 1974; the other updates those under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For more than 40 years these laws have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified veterans and people with disabilities respectively.
"In a competitive job market, employers need access to the best possible employees," says Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These rules make it easier for employers to tap into a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates."
The VEVRAA rule provides contractors with a quantifiable metric to measure their success in recruiting and employing veterans by requiring contractors to annually adopt a benchmark either based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8 percent), or their own benchmark based on the best available data. The rule strengthens accountability and recordkeeping requirements, enabling contractors to assess the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts. It also clarifies job listing and subcontract requirements to facilitate compliance.
The Section 503 rule introduces a hiring goal for federal contractors and subcontractors that 7 percent of each job group in their workforce be qualified individuals with disabilities. The rule also details specific actions contractors must take in the areas of recruitment, training, record keeping and policy dissemination, similar to those that have long been required to promote workplace equality for women and minorities.
The rules will become effective 180 days after their publication in the Federal Register.
Not everyone is a fan of the new rule. HR Policy Association issued a statement expressing “its extreme disappointment” with the decision. It states that the rule would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring employers to “invade the privacy of applicants” by asking whether they have a disability and encouraging employers to make the determination themselves as to whether applicants or employees have a disability if the disability is “obvious” or is “known” to the employer.
For more information, visit www.dol.gov/ofccp/VEVRAARule/ and www.dol.gov/ofccp/503Rule.