The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) has always provided that federal contractors and subcontractors may not discriminate against protected veterans. New rules published on August 27, 2013 amend VEVRAA and require federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain protected veterans. A second rule amends the Rehabilitation Act by providing for hiring goals for qualified disabled employees. The rules will be effective 180 days after their publication.
Highlights of the almost 200-page publication include the following:
- Hiring “benchmarks.” The final rule requires that covered contractors must establish annual hiring benchmarks (which sound suspiciously like quotas!) for protected veterans. The benchmarks must be established by one of two methods: The contractor may use a national percentage of veterans in the civilian workforce, which will be published and updated annually, or contractors may establish their own benchmarks using data to be published by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
- Data collection. Contractors must keep and update annually several comparisons for the number of veterans who apply for jobs as opposed to the veterans who are hired. That data must be maintained for three years.
- Self-identification. Contractors must invite applicants to self-identify as protected veterans both before any job offer is made and after such job offer is made. Examples of the self-identification forms are published in the rules.
- EEO clause. Specific language must be used when incorporating the equal opportunity clause into a subcontract. Mandated language is set forth in the rules.
- Job listings. When listing openings, contractors must provide information in a manner and format permitted by the state or local jobs service so it can access and use the information to make job listings available to job seekers.
Additional rules amend the Rehabilitation Act with respect to qualified individuals with disabilities. A nationwide seven percent utilization goal for such individuals is set forth. Contractors are required to apply that goal to each of their job groups or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees. An annual analysis must be undertaken by contractors with respect to their compliance with the rules. Data collection and invitations to self-identify similar to those in the VEVRAA rule are also required for qualified individuals with disabilities.