OFCCP Proposes Onerous Veteran Affirmative Action Rules for Contractors
By Glenn Schlabs
The proposed rules dealing with data collection, analysis and record-keeping add significant requirements to contractors' current obligations. Under the proposed rules, the following measurements and comparisons would have to be made every year, and retained for five years:
From these data, contractors would be required to compute
The reason for this is clear - it will be easy for the OFCCP to review the ratios in question to determine whether veterans are hired at a rate above, below or at some "expected" level.
Perhaps the most significant change is the proposed requirement to establish "hiring benchmarks." Essentially, a "hiring benchmark" is the percentage of protected veterans, with respect to total hires, that the contractor will strive to hire in the next year. In establishing these "benchmarks," contractors will need to consult various databases to determine the percentage of veterans in the relevant labor force and the number of veterans who affiliate with the state employment service. Whether "benchmark" will merely become a euphemism for "quota" or "goal" remains to be seen.
Another significant, proposed change relates to the mandatory review of various personnel actions. Again, the proposed rule mandates an annual review, and contractors must perform the following, which were only recommendations under the existing regulations: (1) contractors must identify vacancies and training programs, for each protected veteran applicant, for which that applicant was considered; (2) contractors must identify each promotion and training program, for each protected veteran employee, for which that employee was considered; and (3) contractors must provide a statement of the reasons for rejecting proposed veterans for employment, training, or promotion. If the rejected veteran is disabled, the contractor must also describe accommodations it considered before rejecting the disabled veteran. Finally, the contractor must describe the nature of any accommodations for disabled veterans who were selected for hire, promotion or training.
The proposed rules would also redefine veteran categories and change the previously-used term, "covered veteran," to "protected veteran." Furthermore, under the proposed rules, contractors would be required to provide information on job openings to state employment service systems and enter "linkage agreements" with such service systems and other recruitment sources. Finally, contractors will be required to make a minimum number of outreach efforts to hire protected veterans, in addition to entering the "linkage agreements."
And those are just the "high" points! The comment period ends on June 27, 2011. These proposed rules add significant responsibilities to covered federal contractors. Interested contractors should immediately access the rules at 76 Fed. Reg. 23,358 (April 26, 2011). The rules can also be easily accessed from the OFCCP web-site http://www.dol.gov/OFCCP/OFCCPNews/LatestNews.htm#news1.
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