Like I said, I am all about technology. It is essential to make your systems work for you instead of fighting to gather and analyze employee data. However, making the move to an HR system for the first time or moving systems isn’t without its issues; therefore, here are a few affirmative action compliance items to keep in mind: recordkeeping requirements, viewing and access to data, what to do with the originals, accessibility, etc.
If you have made the decision to convert your paper records to an HR system – congratulations. First, take a breath and know that in the end it will be a huge step forward for your organization. I said take a breath because the process of moving from paper to a system can be time-consuming and tedious. Here are a few AA compliance issues you will come across: How many years back will you be uploading into the system? If less than the recordkeeping requirements, how will you maintain those records? Does the system have fields for all of the information on the paper original? If not, how are you going to maintain those records? Once it is in the system, will you be able to view and provide it to OFCCP if requested?
If you are moving to a new system, you have already tackled the issues listed above, but a few new ones can pop up. Is there data from the old system that will not be moved to the new system? If there is, how will you be maintaining that data? If you have multiple systems (ATS, HRIS, Compensation, Benefits, Time & Attendance, Payroll, Performance Management, etc.) are you moving all the data for all the systems at once or staggering the transitions? If staggering, how are you going to maintain the data in two systems during the transitions? Will the data transferred from the old system to the new system still be viewable and reportable?
When making decisions on what and how to import into your new system, I suggest taking a look at the OFCCP’s FAQs regarding electronic records and systems. It is important to understand all your data/system/recordkeeping requirements before making decisions. It is much harder and more expensive to fix the problems later rather than deal with them from the beginning.
Q. Do the recordkeeping requirements that apply to paper records also apply to records maintained electronically?
A. Yes. If records are maintained electronically, contractors must ensure that the electronic records are maintained in compliance with the recordkeeping regulations that apply to all records. Specifically, OFCCP regulations at 41 C.F.R. §§ 60-1.12, 60-250.80, 60-300.80, and 60-741.80 require that contractors preserve complete and accurate personnel or employment records. Additionally, the regulations at 41 C.F.R. §§ 60-1.43, 60-250.81, 60-300.81 and 60-741.81 require that contractors permit OFCCP access to all relevant records for inspection and copying.
Q. If a job seeker submits an application or resume containing an Internet link to material demonstrating his or her qualifications (e.g. article or book), does the contractor need to retain copies of the documents, or will retaining the URL link suffice?
A. The contractor may retain documents submitted by a job seeker to demonstrate his or her qualifications in the format provided by the job seeker. For example, if an applicant provides the contractor with an Internet link to a third-party website containing documents reviewed electronically by the contractor during the selection process, it is sufficient for the contractor to retain the application containing the Internet link to the documents reviewed. However, a contractor’s obligation to ensure that records it retains electronically are readily available for review, and are readable and capable of being copied by OFCCP, is equally applicable to these Internet records. Therefore, in order to ensure compliance, OFCCP recommends that contractors maintain a back-up paper or electronic copy of any record stored on the Internet.
Q. If the Internet Applicant recordkeeping standards apply to hiring for a particular position and the contractor receives paper resumes for the position from job seekers at a career or job fair, does the contractor need to retain the paper resumes received?
A. The contractor needs to retain resumes only if it considers resumes received at the job fair for a particular position. The contractor need not retain any resumes if its consistently applied practice is not to consider paper resumes received at a career or job fair. For example, the contractor would not need to retain paper resumes offered at a job fair if it does not consider them and instructs all job seekers to post their resumes on the contractor’s web site and/or apply for particular positions on the web site. The contractor should take care to apply such a protocol in a uniform and consistent fashion. It is the contractor’s actual practice that determines whether the contractor has considered a resume. For example, if a contractor’s policy is to accept resumes only through its website, but its actual practice is to consider resumes received at a career or job fair as well, the contractor will be expected to retain both the resumes collected at job fairs as well as those submitted through the contractor’s website.
Viewing and Access
Q. If a contractor transfers its personnel paper records to an electronic recordkeeping system, what records must be furnished to OFCCP when requested?
A. OFCCP regulations require contractors to permit OFCCP access to its records during an OFCCP compliance evaluation or complaint investigation. These requirements apply to both paper and electronic records. See 41 C.F.R. §§ 60-1.43, 60-250.81, 60-300.81, and 60-741.81. Thus, all of the contractor's electronic records must be made readily available for review, and must be readable and capable of being copied by OFCCP.
Q. May a contractor submit to OFCCP materials in the same format that job seekers provided to the contractor if the records were provided through an Internet address, link, or URL?
A. A contractor may provide OFCCP materials furnished by job seekers in the format submitted by job seekers. However, contractors must ensure that any Internet links provided to OFCCP are accurate, up-to-date and operational, and that the materials linked to are readily identifiable, available for review, and capable of being copied. If OFCCP is unable to access, inspect or duplicate a contractor’s records for any reason, e.g., the server housing the records has been disabled, the link has moved or changed, or special software is needed to download and review the records, furnishing Internet links will not satisfy the contractor’s records access requirements and OFCCP will request the contractor to provide other means of access to the requested records. At all times, the contractor must provide effective access to OFCCP for inspection and duplication of requested records. As indicated in the previous answer, in order to ensure compliance, OFCCP recommends that contractors maintain a back-up paper or electronic copy of any record stored on the Internet. In addition, if a contractor’s records are available in multiple formats, OFCCP retains discretion to require those records be produced in one or more of the available formats.
Q. When can a contractor dispose of a paper original record that has been converted to an electronic record?
A. In general, the original paper record may be disposed of any time after it has been transferred to an electronic recordkeeping system. However, the original paper record may not be disposed of if the electronic copy would not accurately reproduce the original record.
Q. May a contractor use only an online application system to accept applications for employment?
A. Yes, a contractor has the option of utilizing an online–only application system, or another electronic form such as e–mail or facsimile. However, contractors must ensure that applicants with disabilities are given an equal opportunity to apply for jobs. See 41 CFR Parts 60–250.5, 60–250.20, 60–250–21, 60–300.5, 60–300.20, 60–300.21, 60–741.5, 60–741.20, and 60–741.21.
Q. Does a contractor have to ensure that its online application system is accessible to individuals with disabilities?
A. The ADA, Section 503, VEVRAA, and their regulations require that a contractor provide equal opportunity to qualified applicants with disabilities and disabled veterans to compete for jobs. This obligation includes, if necessary, making reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense) on the contractor. Covered contractors also must take affirmative action to employ and advance qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in its recruitment, advertisements, and job application practices. See 41 CFR Parts 60–300.5 and 60–741.5.
Although major technological advances have been made in recent years, many online systems may not be fully accessible. For example, an individual with a visual disability may find the print or graphics on the webpage difficult to read. Or the system may not operate if an individual with a disability is using adaptive software. Contractors may therefore find it beneficial (but are not required) to design, or re–design their online application systems to ensure the greatest degree of ready access to the greatest number of potential applicants with disabilities. Utilizing “universal design” techniques can be a cost–effective and efficient way to minimize the need for individual reasonable accommodations and to ensure that the contractor is reaching out to, and receiving applications from, the widest pool of qualified applicants.
If a contractor routinely offers applicants various methods of applying for jobs and all methods of application are treated equally, then an employer may not need to ensure that its online application system is fully accessible. But if a contractor only uses an online application system to accept applications for employment, it must ensure that potential applicants with disabilities either can use the system or can submit an application in a timely manner through alternative means. This includes providing a means to contact the contractor, other than through the online system, to request any reasonable accommodation needed to provide an applicant with a disability an equal opportunity to apply and be considered for the contractor’s jobs.
Q. How can a contractor know whether its online application system is interoperable with assistive technology used by individuals with disabilities?
A. In order for an application system to be generally accessible, it should incorporate “interoperable” electronic and information technologies. Interoperability is the ability of a computer system to effectively interact and communicate when an applicant with a disability is using assistive technology/adaptive software and adaptive strategies with the contractor’s application system. The U.S Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has identified resources available to the contractor community and job applicants in this regard. This and other information can be found on ODEP’s website at www.dol.gov/odep. Additional resources can be found on the website of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at www.jan.wvu.edu