The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published on Dec. 9, 2011, a notice of proposed rule-making for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
These revisions are expected to take effect early in 2013. The proposed regulations are designed to help increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities with a national target of 7 percent of federal contractor employees. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show stark employment disparities: 79 percent of those with disabilities are outside the labor force, while 30 percent of those without disabilities are out of the labor force. In New Mexico, an estimated 39.1 percent of residents ages 21 to 64 reporting disabilities are in the labor force (U.S. Census, America Community Survey (ACS) PUMS Data 2005-2007).
The proposed regulations incorporate changes necessitated by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and require an annual review of personnel processes; outreach and recruitment measures; and mandate job listing requirements. The current regulations for Section 503 prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of disability by federal government contractors and subcontractors. Section 503 also requires that covered federal contractors and subcontractors take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.