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Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic

Workforce Recruitment Program

Q&A from the February 7th WRP Kick Off Event at the USDA

Question: Can you please provide me the hiring authorities that John Berry referenced in his talk. Thank you!

Answer: The resources that John Berry referenced in his talk for increasing the hiring of people with disabilities are eFedLink.org, the Bender List, and the Workforce Recruitment Program.

Question: Can a vet block a disabled student or person with disabilities? Please provide any info on how vets can block a person with a disability. Thanks.

Answer: Federal hiring is based on a point-system with which the Federal Government has various hiring authorities for different sub-populations and one of those is Veterans Preference. Please consult with your Human Resources office for the official guidelines and regulations your office uses.

Question: What is the process for uploading WRP? Is there an intern process? I think there is valuable information not only for recruits but for prospective employees as well.

Answer: To access the WRP database, which is web-based and does not need to be downloaded, please register for a user profile at www.wrp.gov. All resources can be accessed upon registering.

Question: The presentation was very informative and useful. I would like for Disability Manager to provide or hold events on student programs/WRP with the staff offices and provide resources.

Answer: Resources can be found at www.wrp.gov or for disability hiring at www.dol.gov/odep/. Please connect with your agency's Disability Manager to inquire about agency-specific training and events.

Question: I was expecting for this season to actually help managers with information as to how to use the WRP program and not just promote it. As a hiring manager I don't have enough info as to how to make this happen.

Answer: Please view our Talent Has No Boundaries: An Employer's Guide to Recruiting and Retaining Individuals with Disabilities for more information. This can be found at www.dol.gov/odep/WRP/.

Question: Are there programs to hire disabled or interns at no cost to a specific program/agency? Or at a reduced cost to the agency?

Answer: No, each agency is responsible for their intern/hiring budget. However, some agencies have a central fund for hiring summer interns, but WRP does not manage or contribute to such funds. You should check with your HR office to see if such a fund exists and the regulations regarding the utilization of said funds.

Question: Great speakers: however, I thought this session would provide specifics about using WRP and other programs. I don't need to be motivated to use various programs but need to know how to use them. Again, great speakers but this not what I was expecting.

Answer: Please view our Talent Has No Boundaries: An Employer's Guide to Recruiting and Retaining Individuals with Disabilities for more information. This can be found at www.dol.gov/odep/WRP/.

Question: I recommend that student interviews be videotaped and placed on the WRP site with the resumes. I have no idea if the interview would rate consistently and it would be good to see the students act responsible. This would expedite the selection process and reduce secondary interviews.

Answer: Unfortunately, due to budget and privacy concerns, this is not possible at this time. However, WRP recruiters take the time to write comprehensive reports on the student before submitting them into the database.

Question: Why is it every time I ask to have a student intern for my office I get an answer that “they are not qualified?” I know, that that's why they are interns wanting to learn. How do I get an intern assigned to my office?

Answer: We suggest perhaps drafting up an intern position description detailing the functions that the proposed intern would perform in the office. You may also want to connect with your agency's intern programs, the Selective Placement Coordinator as well as the Disability Program Manager to explore possibilities of hiring a summer WRP intern.

Question: I would like it explained in detail where the money comes from to pay these people. Whose budget?

Answer: Each agency typically sets aside funds that can be used for interns or new FTEs. These funds can be allocated towards WRP hires as well, whether they are summer or permanent employees.

Question: What are the legal concerns for disciplining a WRP employee or person with disability? For instance, do I need to first ascertain if the behavior is caused by the disability? If so, how do I do that? We have a WRP student with a psychological disability who has presented some issues.

Answer: The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) actually has an informative fact sheet on this very topic.

Question: When do employees hired on Schedule A graduate from their probationary period? Is it beyond one, two, or three years?

Answer: The Schedule A probationary period typically lasts for two years. Please see OPM's site for more information or talk to your HR office about additional options.

Question: Recommend posting to running total of WRP hires on OMB site: DOL posts names, agency — not numerical total. This would really help — if agency does it. We can too! Would also embarrass agencies with zero!

Answer: Thank you, we will take this into consideration for the future. However, at this time we do not currently have the resources to do this.

Question: Do I need an FTE available to participate in program? What Grade level should it be?

Answer: No, you do not need to have a FTE available to participate in this program as it functions to link you to potential interns OR permanent hires. As for Grade level, that is contingent on the WRP candidate's experience. The typical grades for summer interns are GS 3, 4, 5. However, there is no limit as long as the candidate qualifies for such grade.

Question: My agency has no money for interns; however, we have unpaid internships available. Can I use the WRP database to recruit unpaid interns?

Answer: WRP candidates have been told that the positions are usually paid positions with the Federal government. However, there is nothing that prevents prospective employers from contacting potential hires through the database for unpaid positions as long as that is made clear to the student who will then use their own discretion to determine whether or not they will accept. Furthermore, some agencies are also enacting Student Volunteer Authorities.

Question: How do we encourage hiring officials to hire the disabled?

Answer: You can work together with the Disability Program Manager (DPM) as well as the Selective Placement Coordinator (SPC) at your agency EARN has several resources that are helpful with this topic at www.askearn.org. Furthermore, on July 26, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548: Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities which calls for hiring 100,000 people with disabilities in five years.

Question: Please make ALL available links, websites, etc that were mentioned available to all participants.

Answer: All WRP related references can be found at www.wrp.gov as well at www.dol.gov/odep/wrp/. Once you register at www.wrp.gov , you will have access to the content that is specifically for employers.

Question: Would like to receive a copy of the hiring authorities memo John Berry mentioned.

Answer: The joint memorandum from DOL and OPM that was signed by Secretary Hilda Solis and Director John Berry.

Question: What does a person do when hired but not promoted and ignored and left helpless.

Answer: Initially, the employee should meet with their supervisor to see if there is additional training that needs to be completed to be promoted. However, if this is not the case, the employee can consult with their agency's EEO officer for further guidance.

Question: Please consider adding a field to the WRP database indicating whether the student would consider an unpaid work experience.

Answer: As it is the standard for the majority of Federal internship programs to be paid positions, this is not a recommended option for WRP candidates. This, however, does not circumvent employers from making offers for unpaid work experience to individuals in the database.

Question: Please encourage WRP students/recent graduates to upload their Schedule A letters to the database. For agencies using the WRP to find permanent employees, this speeds the hiring process.

Answer: Schedule A letters are not a requirement to register for the Workforce Recruitment Program. However, students are told that having these letters readily available can streamline the hiring process.

Question: My question is centered around my son Michael who is 32, has a disability and is currently unemployed. I have written to every cabinet member, the President (at least 10 times) — no one has really cared. We received only forms letters back, but the President never responded. How do I get my son into one of these programs? I don't see any caring about his being helped. So what should he do?

Michael is currently taking classes in digital media. Michael has a Cert A letter.

Answer: If Michael is working towards a degree in digital media, he should check with his campus's disability support services or career center to see if WRP conducts interviews at his campus and sign up for a slot this coming fall. He can also send an email to wrp@dol.gov if his campus is not connected with the Workforce Recruitment Program. Other possibilities may be the career center on campus or Vocational Rehabilitation.