On December 9, 2012, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP") issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would set an "aspirational" goal for federal contractors’ to employ more people with disabilities. Under the proposed rule, the goal would be that people with disabilities would make up 7% of a federal contractors’ and sub-contractors’ workforce.
If you are thinking to yourself, that this does not affect my company, we’re not federal contractors or sub-contractors, don’t be so hasty.
Who is and who is not a federal contractor can be a complex question when an entity receives grants from the federal government. Certainly, receipt of most grants given by the federal government to provide financial assistance will not make an employer a federal contractor. In certain situations where the government and the employer are both receiving a benefit, that grant may in fact be a federal contract. In any case, it is prudent for employers who receive federal grants to periodically have the grants reviewed to determine if that grant is actually a federal contract, making the employer subject to the OFCCP’s jurisdiction.
So, what have employers who are federal contractors and manufacturing groups been commenting so far?
Many groups who have already commented on the proposed regulations have concerns that the revised regulations would set a hiring quota. Although Secretary Solis denies that is the case, the regulations if adopted as proposed, would increase federal contractors obligations to keep records regarding its employees with disabilities, including requiring employers to have applicants voluntarily self-identify and to give existing employees an opportunity to self-identify on an annual basis.
After receiving numerous requests to extend the comment period, including one from Congress’ Committee on Education and the Workforce, the OFCCP has granted an extension of only 14 days. If employers wish to comment, comments must be submitted no later than February 21, 2012. Comments can be made electronically at regulations.gov.
Photo courtesy of Tulane Public Relations.