The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently proposed new rules by which federal contractors would be held to specific measurements with respect to their hiring of Vietnam-era military veterans. The new rules propose that contractors would have to use veteran hiring “benchmarks” in each affirmative action year plan.
The hiring benchmarks for veterans would be expressed as the percentage of total hired that are protected veterans whom a contractor will seek to hire on an annual basis.
To establish an acceptable hiring benchmark, federal contractors would have to take into account at least five sources of data, two of which apparently will be published on the OFCCP website. They would be: (1) the average percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force over the preceding three years in the particular state or states where the contractor is located; and (2) the number of veterans, over the previous four quarters, who were participants in the employment service delivery system (state or local employment agency) in the state in which the contractor is located. The hiring benchmark must be documented each year, including a discussion of the factors involved in establishing the benchmark. The rules require that applicants be invited to self-identify as a “protected veteran” before they are offered a job.
The rules, at least at present, are only in proposed form. The comment period ended on July 11, 2011. The Director of the OFCCP who has announced that she intends to put teeth in the OFCCP regulations, including affirmative action regulations, subsequently rejected a request, by a number of employer advocacy groups, that those rules be withdrawn. It is anticipated that the final rules will be published in the spring of 2012. Expect more vigorous rules revisions and enforcement activity in the upcoming months.