Historic Affirmative Action Revisions Proposed, Comments Due February 7

For the first time since the 1970’s, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has proposed wholesale revisions to strengthen the discrimination and affirmative action regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Most significantly, the OFCCP proposes what it describes as a “historic” utilization goal of seven percent disabled employees for each Executive Order 11246 job group. The Notice of Proposed Rule Making and information for submission of comments can be found here. 
 
The proposed rules, aimed at increasing lagging employment for disabled individuals, place considerable additional burdens on covered employers. Regarding recruitment and outreach efforts, employers must:  (1) enter into a written “linkage agreement” with the local state vocational rehabilitation Agency; (2) enter into linkage agreements with at least one designated disabled organization; and (3) consult the Employer Resources section of the National Resource Directory for assistance in effective disabled outreach efforts.
 
The proposed rules also require employers to pay closer attention to the effectiveness of recruitment and outreach efforts. Employers must annually analyze and document the effectiveness of their efforts using data on the number of disabled referrals, applicants, and hires for the current and previous two years. To aid that analysis, employers would for the first time be required to track and document referral, applicant and, hiring data.  Naturally, that would also for the first time require employers to invite applicants to identify as disabled in an invitation form prescribed by the regulations. Employers would still be required also to invite individuals to self-identify after an offer of employment.  The proposed rules add a further requirement that employers annually and anonymously survey their existing workforce for disability identification, again using a prescribed form. And, the proposed rules require employers to calculate annual ratios:  (1) disabled referrals/total referrals; (2) disabled applicants/total applicants; (3) disabled hires/total hires; and (4) total jobs filled/total job openings.
 
Other items of note are the requirements for employers develop and implement “written procedures for processing requests for accommodation” and to post job-openings with One-Stop Career Centers, similar to the current veterans posting requirement. 
 
Comments on the proposed rules must be made by February 7, 2012.  For further information, please contact Chris Chrisbens (303.223.5469/cchrisbens@msec.org) or Sandie Harrison (303.223.5384/sharrison@msec.org) with MSEC’s Affirmative Action Planning Services.