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Do you have a handle on the number of disabled employees in your workforce? Under a new rule, you may have to set a utilization goal for individuals with disabilities.
The OFCCP has proposed some revisions to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, and some experts are calling these proposed revisions “game changers.” One of the proposed changes would establish a goal of 7% workforce utilization for individuals with disabilities.
According to Hilda Solis, the 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.”
OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu stated “for nearly 40 years, the rules have said the contractors simply need to make a ‘good faith effort’ to recruit and hire people with disabilities. Clearly, that is 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.”
Employers should note that the definition of “disability” was greatly expanded under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Traditionally, an individual was considered disabled if he was physically disabled, visually impaired, etc. Under the ADAAA, a variety of medical conditions like HIV, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder are considered disabilities. The ADAAA expands the definition of “disability” to include major bodily functions, such as functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and brain, neurological and endocrine functions.
Highlights of the proposed rule as it relates to individuals with disabilities are as follows:
OFCCP suggests that federal contractors would be required to set a hiring goal of having 7% of their employees in each job group be employees with disabilities. According to the Agency, this goal is derived primarily from disability data collected through the American Community Survey administered by the U.S Census Bureau.
According to OFCCP, the utilization goal is not a hiring quota, but an equal employment opportunity objective. The agency believes that mandating an “aspirational” goal is the best way to create accountability within the contractor community, and is soliciting feedback on the 7% goal, as well as a utilization range between 4% and 10%.
OFCCP is also considering a “sub-goal” of two percent (2%) for individuals with severe or “targeted” disabilities, such as total deafness, blindness, and missing extermities.
OFCCP believes that new data collection requirements would assist in determining the availability of individuals with a disability, as well as the effectiveness of the contractor’s outreach efforts. The additional data collected includes:
Under the proposed rule, contractors would be required to develop and implement written procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodations. These procedures, which would be included in the affirmative action plan, would outline the following:
Under the proposed rule, contractors would be required to do the following:
Contractors would also be required to evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach efforts on an annual basis. This evaluation would consider, at a minimum, the number of disabled individuals who were referrals, applicants and hires for the current year and the previous two years. OFCCP would determine whether the contractor’s assessment of its efforts is reasonable; the primary indicator of effectiveness would be whether disabled individuals were hired.
You can read the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov/.