OFCCP Proposes Revision of Vets' Affirmative Action Rules

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The Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs April 26 issued a proposed rule to strengthen current regulations that require federal contractors to take affirmative action in employing specified categories of protected military veterans (76 Fed. Reg. 23,358).

The proposal would revise existing OFCCP regulations to clarify definitions, describe in greater detail steps contractors must take to comply with the 1974 Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and its amendments, increase federal contractors' data collection obligations, and require federal contractors to establish hiring benchmarks in measuring the effectiveness of their affirmative action efforts regarding protected veterans.

VEVRAA prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against specified categories of veterans, and requires them to take affirmative action to recruit, employ, and promote protected veterans. Contractors with 50 or more employees (and $100,000 in federal contracts formed on or after Dec. 1, 2003) must maintain a written affirmative action program (AAP).

Broad Benefits of Proposal Cited

By clarifying job-posting requirements and requiring contractors to provide “additional, regularly updated information” to state employment services, the proposal would connect job-seeking veterans with contractors looking to hire, OFCCP said. Contractors would be required to enter into “linkage agreements” with several veterans' employment sources, OFCCP said.

Communication would increase under the proposal, with contractors required to meet regularly with employees to discuss the AAP and management to discuss AAP implementation. Further, the policy would have to be presented during new employee orientation.

The proposal would change how OFCCP conducts compliance reviews to include a greater emphasis on identifying electronic data that OFCCP can review, greater flexibility in where reviews can take place, and a new procedure for a pre-award compliance review, the agency said.

For the first time, OFCCP would require contractors to establish annual hiring benchmarks, expressed as the percentage of total hires who are protected veterans that the contractor seeks to hire in the following year, the agency said.

Contractors would be required to take specific steps in reviewing their personnel practices, many of which are now “suggested” by OFCCP but not followed by contractors, the agency said. Requiring contractors to review and revise their procedures at least annually will both improve contractor compliance and facilitate OFCCP review, the agency said.

Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 27.

Text of OFCCP's proposed rule can be accessed at http://op.bna.com/dlrcases.nsf/r?Open=kmgn-8g9luh.

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