“We know that the equality of  individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”

 Franklin Delano Roosevelt

On August 27, 2013, Vice President Biden announced that the Department of Labor has finalized rules implementing Section 503 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and VEVRAA (the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act). These rules will require that federal contractors and subcontractors be held accountable to set metrics to recruit and employ both individuals with disabilities and protected veterans. The Department of Labor’s News Release regarding these rules can be found here.

The VEVRAA rule will require contractors to annually establish a benchmark based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8%), or to create their own benchmark based on the best available data. To learn more about VEVRAA, please visit www.dol.gov/ofccp/VEVRAARule/.

Utilization Goal

The Section 503 rule establishes a 7% utilization goal for all federal contractors and subcontractors in each job group, or their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 employees or less. It will also establish affirmative action steps contractors must take in the areas of recruitment, training, record keeping, and policy dissemination for individuals with disabilities and makes changes to the nondiscrimination portion of the regulations in order to ensure they are in compliance with the 2008 ADA Amendments Act.

The Section 503 rule will also establish guidelines for data collection, the invitation to applicants to self-identify, subcontractor incorporation of the EO Clause, records access, and implements changes necessitated by the passage of the ADAAA.

Record Keeping

Contractors will be required to maintain documentation with regards to the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for employment and the number who are hired. Contractors will be required to update this data annually and maintain data records for three years in order to measure the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts and determine any trends in hiring of individuals with disabilities.

Records Access

Contractors will be required to allow the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) access to review documentation related to a compliance check or focused review. It will also require contractors, upon request, to inform OFCCP of all formats in which it maintains records and provide them to OFCCP in formats requested by OFCCP.

Self-Identification

Contractors will be required to ask applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability at both pre- and post-offer phases of their application process. This portion of the rule will also require employers to invite employees to self-identify as an individual with a disability every five years. Language appropriate for employers to use when asking applicants and employees to self identify will be provided by the OFCCP.

Subcontractor Language

The Section 503 rule will require that specific, mandated language be used in the equal opportunity clause to alert subcontractors of their responsibilities as a Federal contractor.

 To learn more about the Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 implementation rule, please visit www.dol.gov/ofccp/503Rule/.