VETS Rule Requires Federal Contractors To Report Veteran Data in the Aggregate

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By Gayle Cinquegrani

Sept. 24 — Federal contractors will report the number of veterans they hire or already employ in the aggregate, rather than by specified categories, under a final rule announced Sept. 24 by the Labor Department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service.

The final rule (RIN 1293-AA20), published in the Sept. 25 Federal Register (79 Fed. Reg. 57,463), updates the regulations implementing federal contractor reporting requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act.

The changes will apply to reports filed in 2015 and subsequent years.

“By making available data on the total number of protected veterans employed and newly hired by Federal contractors it will now be possible to include cross-year comparisons of Federal contractors' employment and hiring of protected veterans in the annual report, as well as the proportion of contractors' workforce and new hires made up by protected veterans,” VETS said in the preamble to the rule.

“Information on the total number and proportion of protected veterans employed and newly hired in Federal contractor workforces from year to year will show trends in the employment of protected veterans, and analyses of those trends can be used to assess the extent to which Federal contractors are providing employment opportunities to protected veterans,” it said.

Current VETS rules (41 C.F.R. parts 61-250 and 61-300) require specified federal contractors and subcontractors to submit annual reports known as the VETS-100 and VETS-100A.

The final rule rescinds the regulations at 41 C.F.R. part 61-250 that set forth the VETS-100 reporting requirements applicable to government contracts and subcontracts entered into before Dec. 1, 2003. VETS said those regulations are obsolete because federal acquisition regulations generally limit the length of government contracts to five years, so there would no longer be any unmodified contracts that old.

Rule Creates the New VETS-4212 Report

The final rule creates a new Federal Contractor Veterans' Employment Report VETS-4212 to replace the VETS-100A Report for government contracts and subcontracts worth at least $100,000 entered into or modified after Dec. 1, 2003.

On the VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports, federal contractors reported the number of veterans in each protected veteran category—disabled, other protected, Armed Forces service medal and recently separated—rather than the total number of employees protected by VEVRAA. Consequently, an employee who is a disabled veteran and a service medal veteran would be counted in both of those protected veteran categories, VETS said.

Because employees could be counted in more than one veteran category under the previous reporting system, the government couldn't determine the total number of protected veterans employed or newly hired in the contractor's workforce, VETS said in the preamble to the final rule.

On the new VETS-4212 Report, contractors will provide their veteran information “in the aggregate,” as opposed to separately providing the number of employees in each protected VEVRAA and EEO-1 job category.

VETS said it's preferable for contractors to report the total number of protected veterans they employ and hire. Aggregate reporting will better assist contractors in complying with VEVRAA's affirmative action obligations, according to the agency.

In addition, the final rule changes the term “other protected veteran” to “active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran,” VETS said. The agency explained that the term “other protected veteran” has been misinterpreted as a “catch-all” that includes all veterans instead of being understood to mean veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign for which a campaign badge has been authorized.

The DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces VEVRAA's affirmative action requirements, replaced the term “other protected veteran” with the term “active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran” in a final rule issued in September 2013.

Filing Electronically

In response to the five public comments it received to the proposed rule, VETS renumbered the job categories on the VETS-4212 Report to mirror the numbering system on the EEO-1 Report. The agency also modified the VETS-4212 Report to indicate that providing data on new hires by job category is optional.

VETS-4212 Reports must be filed between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 of each year following a calendar year in which an employer had a contract. VETS noted that the two-month period is also part of the filing period for contractors' EEO-1 Reports.

Contractors with 10 or more hiring or business locations must file their VETS-4212 Reports electronically. Federal contractors with fewer than 10 hiring locations may file their VETS-4212 Reports electronically or in paper format.

“This Final Rule eases the reporting burden on Federal contractors and subcontractors, standardizes definitional terminology with the existing EEO-1 Report, renames the required report the ‘VETS-4212 Report' and provides a more useful tool for employers to assess the effectiveness of their applicable affirmative action programs,” the preamble said.

The notice of proposed rulemaking was published Feb. 24 in the Federal Register. When it proposed the rule, VETS estimated that 15,000 federal contractors annually would submit VETS-4212 Reports for an average of 21 establishments, meaning the agency expects to receive 315,000 submissions each year.

Text of the final rule is available at http://op.bna.com/dlrcases.nsf/r?Open=gcii-9p9lsq.