WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced two final rules to improve hiring and employment of veterans and for people with disabilities. One rule updates requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974; the other updates those under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For more than 40 years these laws have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified veterans and people with disabilities respectively.
"In a competitive job market, employers need access to the best possible employees," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These rules make it easier for employers to tap into a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates."
"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 VEVRAA rule provides contractors with a quantifiable metric to measure their success in recruiting and employing veterans by requiring contractors to annually adopt a benchmark either based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8 percent), or their own benchmark based on the best available data. The rule strengthens accountability and record-keeping requirements, enabling contractors to assess the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts. It also clarifies job listing and subcontract requirements to facilitate compliance.
The Section 503 rule introduces a hiring goal for federal contractors and subcontractors that 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 have long been required to promote workplace equality for women and minorities.
OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For general information, call OFCCP's toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.