Labor Dep't Issues New Rules Requiring Federal Contractors to Hire More Veterans, Disabled People
August 28, 2013 - 4:38 AM
On Tuesday, the U.S. Labor Department announced it is strengthening the "affirmative action and nondiscrimination responsibilities" of federal contractors, with two new regulations intended to "improve employment" for veterans and the disabled.
"In a competitive job market, employers need access to the best possible employees," said Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. "These rules make it easier for employers to tap into a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates."
One of the new regulations updates Vietnam-era rules issued in 1976.
It says federal contractors must:
-- adopt a benchmark based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8 percent) to measure their success in recruiting and employing veterans;
-- list job openings so that veterans can know about and apply for them;
-- keep records on their recruitment efforts.
The second rule says federal contractors and subcontractors must aim to have 7 percent of each job group in their workforce be qualified individuals with disabilities. The rule also details specific actions contractors must take in the areas of recruitment, training, record keeping and policy dissemination — similar to those that promote workplace equality for women and minorities.
The new rules also increase the government's "flexibility" in how it conducts compliance evaluations.
"Strengthening these regulations is an important step toward reducing barriers to real opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces both laws.
The rules cover the estimated 171,000 companies that have contracts with the federal government, Shiu said. And she said as many as 585,000 disabled workers and more than 200,000 veterans could get jobs in the first year as a result of the updated rules.
The new rules will take effect 180 days after they are published in the Federal Register, which will happen in the next two weeks.