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The fall of every year brings the obligation for federal contractors and subcontractors to file annual reports with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). While this has become something of an annual ritual, organizations that may be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) should give special attention to these reports during 2015. There are changes to the report due to VETS, and there are new ramifications for the manner in which information is reported to the EEOC.
The VETS-100 and VETS-100A Reports
Federal contractors and subcontractors have been filing a report with VETS for a number of years. The original report provided to VETS, the VETS-100, requested information on the classes of veterans covered under older versions of the regulations on protected veterans. These classes were as follows:
After the passage of the Job for Veterans Act in 2002, the veterans regulations were eventually changed, and federal contractors and subcontractors were asked to fill out a revised version of the VETS report, the VETS-100A. The VETS-100A used the classes that are currently protected under the federal regulations. These classes are as follows:
Organizations that had federal contracts or subcontracts signed on or after December 1, 2003 were to file the VETS-100A report, while organizations that had unmodified federal contracts or subcontracts signed before this date were to file the VETS-100 report. The rare organization that had both types of contracts was to file both types of reports.
The VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports had certain common elements.
By 2014, there should have been effectively no organizations in the United States required to file the VETS-100 report, since there should have been no unmodified federal contracts or subcontracts from before December 1, 2003 held by any organization.
VETS Changes the Nature of the Annual Report on Protected Veterans
In 2014, VETS announced that it was changing the manner in which federal contractors and subcontractors would be required to provide information. The new VETS report, named the VETS-4212 report, continues to request information on employees and new hires. However, there are several important changes from the VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports.
Organizations will be filing the VETS-4212 report for the first time in 2015. There is no longer a requirement (nor an option) to file either the VETS-100 or the VETS-100A report.
Ramifications of the New VETS-4212 Report
The changes to the report required by VETS has certain surprising ramifications for federal contractors and subcontractors. The VETS-4212 report should theoretically be easier for organizations to complete, since it no longer requires the submission of information on hires by EEO-1 category, and it no longer requires reporting on each individual protected veteran classification. However, organizations that have pre-established reports in their HR systems set to automatically provide data in the formats found in the VETS-100 or VETS-100A reports will need to work with vendors on restructuring these reports to follow the formats found in the VETS-4212 report.
The biggest surprise growing out of the changes to the VETS-4212 report involves its ramification for surveying employees. Federal contractors and subcontractors have been required, both by the VETS regulations and by OFCCP’s regulations, to survey new hires for each protected veteran status. When OFCCP issued its revised veterans regulations in September of 2013, the requirement to survey new hires (i.e. post-offer applicants) stated that the survey was to follow the format used in the report due to the Veterans Employment and Training Service. OFCCP clearly expected that VETS would continue to require that federal contractors and subcontractors provide information on each protected veteran classification separately. Instead, shortly after OFCCP’s revised veterans regulations became effective, VETS changed its reporting requirements so that organizations would only need to report on the combined number of protected veterans rather than reporting on each protected veteran category.
What does this mean for federal contractors and subcontractors?
The change to the VETS report also has some odd ramifications for federal contractors and subcontractors. For example, there is one category, recently separated veterans, that is a date-driven category. Since organizations are no longer required to request information on each separate veteran category, it appears there is also no requirement to gather information on discharge date from new hires. Thus, certain employees who would otherwise fall out of protected veteran status after the three-year window on separation from service will still show in HR systems and on certain reports as being in protected veteran status. Organizations may want to consider if they should collect information on whether a new employee is a recently separated veteran along with the date of that individual’s discharge in order to provide accurate reports to VETS. However, there appears to be no requirement in either OFCCP’s regulations or VETS regulations to do so.
As another example, OFCCP’s regulations provide certain protections for disabled veterans. However, if organizations are no longer required to survey for each separate protected veteran status, there will be no way to know which employees fall into the disabled veteran category. That means it will be difficult (if not impossible) to know which employees should receive the extra protections afforded to disabled veterans.
New Ramifications for the EEO-1 Report
While there are significant changes in the report due to the Veterans Employment and Training Service, there are no real changes occurring to the EEO-1 report that is due to EEOC this year. Federal contractors and subcontractors (other than universities) with 50 or more employees must file this report by September 30, and all employers with 100 or more employees must also file this report regardless of whether they are federal contractors or subcontractors.
EEO-1 reports were previously important to OFCCP because they helped to form the database used to select federal contractors and subcontractors for compliance reviews. There is a box on the EEO-1 report that asks a rather convoluted question about whether organizations have federal contracts or subcontracts. If an organization answers “Yes” to this question, the organization enters the OFCCP database, and becomes a potential subject of a compliance review. It’s important to note that organizations falsely answering “No” to this question are subject to civil and criminal penalties.
OFCCP has long required the submission of EEO-1 reports as part of the package of items requested when an affirmative action compliance review opens. These reports were previously requested as item 7 in the itemized listing that accompanies the letter opening a compliance review. Item 7 has been renumbered as item 15 in the revised version of the itemized listing that was released in October of 2014.
With revisions to OFCCP’s Federal Contract Compliance Manual (FCCM) and OFCCP’s itemized listing, there are new ramifications for organizations in regard to the EEO-1 report.
Actions to Take Regarding EEO-1 Reports
With OFCCP giving additional scrutiny to EEO-1 reports and individual data that may be part of these reports, there are a number of actions that federal contractors and subcontractors should consider.
Finding More Information
LocalJobNetwork is doing a webinar on Tuesday, August 25, where the revised itemized listing, including the compensation item, will be discussed. Check the LJN website for more information on this webinar.
Please note: Nothing in this article is intended as legal advice or as a substitute for any professional advice about your organization’s particular circumstances. All original materials copyright © HR Analytical Services Inc. 2015