The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing a new rule that would require federal contractors and subcontractors to set a hiring goal of having 7 percent of their workforces be people with disabilities, among other requirements. The department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs invites public comment on this proposal, which will be published in the Dec. 9 edition of the Federal Register.See factsheet from the Office of Federal Compliance Programs
OFCCP's proposed rule would strengthen the affirmative action requirements established in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 obligating federal contractors and subcontractors to ensure equal employment opportunities for qualified workers with disabilities. The proposed regulatory changes detail 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. In addition, the rule would clarify OFCCP's expectations for contractors by providing specific guidance on how to comply with the law.
"This proposed rule represents one of the most significant advances in protecting the civil rights of workers with disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "President Obama has demonstrated a commitment to people with disabilities. This proposed rule would help federal contractors better fulfill their legal responsibility to hire qualified workers with disabilities."
“For nearly 40 years, the rules have said that contractors simply need to make a ‘good faith' effort to recruit and hire people with disabilities,” said OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu. “Clearly, that's not working. Our proposal would define specific goals, require real accountability, and provide the clearest possible guidance for employers seeking to comply with the law.”
This proposed utilization goal is “not a hiring quota nor a restrictive hiring ceiling,” Shiu said. “Rather, it is an equal employment opportunity objective, and an important tool for measuring the contractor's progress toward equal employment opportunity and assessing where barriers to equal employment opportunity remain.”
OFCCP developed the 7 percent figure after looking at federal contractors' occupations and at data regarding persons with disabilities who could perform those jobs, including discouraged workers not currently in the labor force, Harris said.
“We're suggesting 7 percent but asking for comments on a range between 4 percent and 10 percent,” he said.
"In some cases, in the most egregious cases, we will be seeking to debar them, as we do in cases of race and gender," said Patricia Shiu, director of the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris.