In August 2013, the Department of Labor published new regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). Section 503 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from engaging in employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and requires various affirmative action practices in recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention of protected individuals. Similarly, VEVRAA prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against protected veterans with disabilities, and requires affirmative action practices. For more information about changes and additional requirements click on Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations or visit OFCCP’s Section 503 and VEVRAA FAQs.
This fact sheet helps contractors identify valuable resources for updating their recruitment, hiring, and employment practices to comply with new regulations. Generally, contractors should aim to develop and update: (a) practices for offering voluntary disclosure invitations to current and prospective employees, (b) standards for confidentiality and maintenance of disclosure records, (c) data collection procedures aligned with the Section 503 National Utilization Goal and VEVRAA Annual Benchmarks, (d) administrative procedures for providing job vacancy information to local employment service delivery systems, (e) disclosure forms, compliance training, and procedures for providing reasonable accommodations, and (f) affirmative action strategies complying with new regulatory requirements.
VEVRAA Compliance and Resources
Previously, VEVRAA provisions applied to all federal contracts and subcontracts of or exceeding $25,000, the new regulations updated this rule to apply only to contracts of $100,000 or more. The new regulations require federal contractors to establish “annual hiring benchmarks” for protected veterans using OFCCP’s forthcoming “Benchmark Database,” which is set to be made available online. For information on benchmark data, visit the OFCCP’s VEVRAA FAQ or read the Final Rule. For successful hiring and recruitment strategies visit OFCCP’s Recruitment Resources page.
Contractors must invite applicants to self-identify as protected veterans at both the pre- and post-offer phases. The new rule provides a Sample Invitation to Self-Identify, and suggests (but do not require) that contractors ask if an applicant requires an accommodation in order to perform the job for which they are applying. The duty to provide reasonable accommodations upon employing a protected individual applies regardless of whether the question was asked in the pre-employment phase. Helpful information about self-identification compliance, confidentiality, and more can be found at OFCCP’s Self-Identification Resources page.
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) America’s Heroes at Work project offers aStep-by-Step Toolkit for employers looking to hire veterans, with special attention to facilitating the employment process for veterans with disabilities. The toolkit is designed to “assist and educate employers” in their recruitment and hiring initiatives, particularly with regard to navigating the full array of available employment resources. The toolkit aims to simplify the process by pinpointing helpful resources, best practices, and needed steps for designing a veterans hiring initiative that works for each unique employer, whether that employer is “retooling” their hiring initiative or building one from scratch. The toolkit’s six step process focuses on: (1) designing strategies for hiring; (2) creating a “welcoming and educated” workplace; (3) active recruitment; (4) hiring and reasonable accommodations; (5) employee retainment through inclusive workplace environments, and; (6) utilization of available tools and resources.
DOL also sponsors a Career One Stop Business Center which provides recruitment resources for businesses interested in hiring veterans. The One Stop center simplifies the hiring process by providing links to State Job Banks, through which employers can post job openings on the web, in addition to offering employer access to Veterans Employment Representatives at American Job Centers. The American Job Centers will typically ask for details about specific job listing(s), and will then help identify qualified veterans. The One Stop Center provides additional resources, including a Civilian-to-Military Occupation Translator, a Database of Local Training Centers, and Work Opportunity Tax Credit technical assistance.
DOL directs employers and veterans to a number of additional resources for hiring veterans with disabilities. For example, Veterans Employment and Training Services help “promote the economic security of America’s veterans” “by assisting programs and activities that are designed to maximize the employment and training opportunities of all veterans.” DOL’s eLaws provides additional technical assistance for employers for the interpretation of federal laws and regulations. For example, eLaws provides technical assistance related to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, a general Disability Non-discrimination Law Advisor, a Veterans’ Preference Advisor, and more.
A number of other federal departments offer resources for both veteran job seekers and employers looking to hire veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a Veterans Hiring Guide, an interactive tool for finding regional vocational rehabilitation offices and state/local employment resources, and provides general tips and business incentives for hiring veterans with disabilities. The Feds Hire Vets resource (a collaborative between multiple departments) offers another “one stop,” explaining how veterans’ preference initiatives work with federal employers and contractors. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management provides a number of resources, including a FAQ for veteran job seekers and a comprehensive Vet Guide to veterans’ preference in federal hiring. The White House has also issued its own Guide to Hiring Veterans.