March 24, 2014
The Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act rule changes announced last year by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) went into effect today. The changes impose significant obligations on federal contractors and subcontractors to show they are actively working towards building and maintaining a diverse, and inclusive, workforce.
According to the OFCCP, these changes will “strengthen the affirmative action provisions of the regulations to aid contractors in their efforts to recruit and hire” and “improve job opportunities” for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.
“We hope the Section 503 rule change has a tangible effect on the extremely low labor force participation rate of people with disabilities,” said Laura M. Francis, Executive Director at the National Business & Disability Council at The Viscardi Center. “As a comprehensive resource for disability employment best practices, we stand ready with in-depth programs to educate federal contractors about the rule change and what they must do to maintain and exceed compliance. We also have valuable tools they can utilize to actively recruit individuals with disabilities, including those who are protected veterans.”
For the first time, these rules provide metric tools and provide real accountability to measure federal contractors’ progress toward achieving equal opportunity for people with disabilities and protected veterans.
The VEVRAA rule requires contractors to establish an annual hiring benchmark, either based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8%), or based on the best available data and factors unique to their establishments.
The Section 503 rule establishes an aspirational 7% utilization goal for the employment of individuals with disabilities.
The rules will also facilitate the success of companies that do business with the federal government, by increasing their access to a large, diverse pool of qualified workers. Federal contractors face a number of tasks to come into compliance with these new requirements.
For more information about membership and the National Business & Disability Council’s programs and services, email Laura M. Francis, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 516.465.1519. An executive summary and overview of the NBDC’s recommendations are online at nbdc.com.
NBDC’s services are offered through tiered membership levels or on a consultant basis and assist businesses in developing strategies to implement, grow, measure and create solid disability programs. These include talent acquisition, advancement and retention strategies; customized training seminars and workshops; facility and IT accessibility surveys; and an information hotline for disability-related employment issues. Its initiatives to assist employers with expanding their recruiting of people with disabilities include the NBDC National Resume Database® that provides access to resume listings 24/7 and the Emerging Leaders summer internship program for college students with disabilities.
Founded by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who served as disability advisor to eight U.S. presidents and became one of the world’s leading advocates, The Viscardi Center provides Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement, adapted driver education, assistive technology and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. A global leader, it employs more than 300 professionals, including experts in education, human resources and technology.