With two new broad rules the world of recruitment is changing. The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP), has recently updated regulations regarding the recruitment and hiring of employees with disabilities (Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). Another new rule updates the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment act of 1974 (VEWRA) which, of course, also applies to Veterans who are disabled.
“Never in my lifetime have we had such aggressive changes for federal contractors and subcontractors,” said Janet Fiore, President of The Sierra Group in Philadelphia. “They are now being required to track their efforts toward a ‘hiring goal’. This change, in my opinion, will be the catalyst to dramatically increase business practices in the areas of affirmatively recruiting, hiring, training and promoting qualified people with disabilities and Veterans.”
Employers must plan ahead for these changes and get the appropriate vocational rehab ‘linkage’ partners and tools in place to help them meet their disability hiring goals starting in March when the new OFCCP rules become enforceable.
These affirmative action rules have been strengthened, “…an important step toward reducing barriers to real opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities,” said Patricia A. Shiu, Director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which will enforce both laws.
Director Shiu goes on to say, “the new Rules could be life changing for the 600,000 Americans with disabilities and the 200,000 veterans who will have greater opportunities.” For training webinars by OFCCP visit: http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/final_rules_webinars.htm.
These rules have some bite with reporting/monitoring for compliance and new investigative enforcement staff and procedures nationwide. From a practical standpoint, the rule changes are already changing the way business views its need to recruit and hire folks with disabilities. At The Sierra Group, "we’re seeing dramatic increases in the numbers of students gaining internships and jobs, as well as growth in our job board, RecruitDisability.org," said Fiore. "Additionally, our consultative training services around ADAAA and OFCCP Compliance, and our expert witness services, are all on the rise."
Highlights of the New Rules:
- A National Utilization Goal of 7% Invitation to Self Identify
- Documentation and Data Collection Records Access
- ADAAA Implementation of Changes
Unemployment rates for individuals with disabilities are almost twice the national average. Additionally, labor force participation is at only 20.3%, said Fiore. However, studies have shown that hiring people with disabilities generally means reduced turnover, increased innovation and a more diverse workforce.
“After advocating on the Hill for almost ten years on the topic of incenting companies who do business with the government to proactively show that their workforce includes significant numbers of employees with disabilities, this new Rule will help all of us in the disability community see some dramatic improvements at long last,” Fiore said.
Hosting OFCCP trainings, sharing articles and offering resources on the topic of disability recruitment is truly just “One More Way” The Sierra Group Foundation works to improve the quality of life and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including Veterans, added Fiore.