As defined by United States’ code – a federal contractor is any person who enters into a contract with the United States or any department or agency thereof for the rendition of personal services and whose compensation is paid in whole or in part from funds appropriated by Congress.
Essentially, this means that anyone who enters into a contract with the Federal government to provide supplies, research, experimental work, or general services is considered a federal contractor. Under new rules set forth under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program, federal contractors will be required to take extra steps to ensure adequate hiring of those individuals with disabilities, as well as those claiming veteran status.
What Extra Steps Will Be Required Of Federal Contractors Beginning in 2014?
Federal contractors will be required by law to expand the scope of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), which has been in place for over 40 years. VEVRAA was created to help combat discrimination among returning veterans, and has mandates that direct federal contractors on how to recruit, hire, train, and retain veterans. Recent legislation has created updates to VEVRAA that include the following key points:
- Contractors and subcontractors must establish one of two methods of establishing hiring benchmarks for veterans.
- These contractors and subcontractors must maintain records related to veteran hiring for at least three years, which will allow for simple tracking and analysis of veteran hiring trends.
- Applicants may be invited to disclose their protected veteran status prior to the hiring phase, as they are currently asked to do so post-offer.
- Contractors and subcontractors of the Federal government must also expressly state in solicitation materials that they are actively involved in the hiring of protected veterans.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program has developed and made available numerous reference materials to help federal contractors and subcontractors to work in compliance with the new parameters.
What Changes Are In Store To Promote The Hiring Of Those With Disabilities?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program has also put into motion new rules and regulations that govern the hiring and promotion of those with disabilities. Federal contractors and subcontractors will (beginning March 2014) be required to achieve a 7% saturation rate of hiring those with disabilities. This can be across specific job groups or among the entire company. As with the protected veteran laws, those with disabilities are invited to self-identify prior to hiring, as well as after a job offer. Provisions of this update to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also require federal contractors and subcontractors to maintain information related to the hiring and retention of those with disabilities. This information should be organized and easy to access for analysis.
Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Must Know and Abide By These Rules Beginning March, 2014.
It is absolutely crucial that federal contractors and subcontractors know, understand, and abide by these new laws once they go into effect in 2014. Besides the obvious compliance issues that may arise, it is in a company’s best interest to always ensure that they are hiring from a diverse group of talented individuals who can provide the foundation for business growth. Those with disabilities and those among the protected veteran class have proven that can be a tremendous benefit for prospective employers across many fields.