By Debbie Gregory.
New Department of Labor regulations have gone into effect, requiring federal contractors to take measures to employ minimum numbers of protected Veteran and disabled workers. Under the new regulation, if companies that contract with the federal government don’t meet the minimum requirements for employing Veterans and disabled workers, or can’t prove that they are in the process of meeting the requirements, they could face penalties, including the revocation their contracts.
The new regulation requires that contractors must include disabled workers as at least 7% of their work force, and employ Veterans based on the national percentage of Veterans in the workforce, which is currently at 8%. Companies can also set their own benchmarks based on the best available data for their region.
The rule change is part of an ongoing effort to shrink the unemployment rate among Veterans and the disabled. This regulations change updates the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which require federal contractors to recruit, hire, train and promote qualified Veterans and people with disabilities.
The new law takes those 40 year old acts a step further by requiring standardized Veterans and the disabled hiring percentages for contractors.
Also included in the new requirements is that federal contractors survey their workforce every five years to try to determine if any of their Veteran or disabled employees have changes in status or if they require updated accommodations.
The Department of Labor’s changes are being celebrated by advocacy groups for both Veterans and the disabled.
But some contactors have voiced concerns over the changes. For example, many employers commonly believed that asking employment applicants if they were disabled was against the law. Specifically, employers felt that such questions would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. But recently, a U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. upheld that asking applicants if they are disabled for the sake of compliance with the new rule change was not a violation of the the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Employers who wish to remain in compliance with the new regulations should consider advertising their open positions on MilitaryConnection.com, one of the most comprehensive websites for resources and information for Veterans. For more info on posting employment opportunities and advertising on our site, please email [email protected].