By Max Cadenasso on October 22, 2021
It’s undeniable that the OFCCP has done a remarkable job protecting marginalized populations from discrimination in the hiring process and that the workplace is more diverse and inclusive as a result. But complying with OFCCP rules can be a lot to work with for recruiters who are new to federal contractors, especially with updates to the regulations being implemented every year. In fact, just last spring we saw another update to the OFCCP recruitment guidelines for companies with contracts with the federal government.
At JobCirc, we know that diving into the weeds of recruitment and OFCCP compliance is never that exciting for those trying to figure it out for the first time, so here are some ABCs to make learning the basics at least a little bit more poetic.
Activity tracking is required
As a recruiting entity, the OFCCP now requires federal contractors to track all activity related to recruitment, outreach, and job posting. This gets as specific as saving every single search you make on job boards and other online job searching databases. In response to these regulations, some sites do save your searches for you, but be sure to note which ones do and which ones don’t so that you don’t miss anything important.
While it seems tedious, this kind of tracking does come in handy when it comes to tracking recruitment efforts and making plans to meet required benchmarks for hiring protected applicants such as individuals with disabilities (IWDs) or veterans.
Be inclusive in job advertisements
Promoting workplace inclusion is a huge piece of the OFCCP’s responsibility. But part of this is making sure that job seekers from marginalized sectors of society feel confident that they won’t be discriminated against during the application and hiring processes. To ensure this, the OFCCP requires recruiters for federal contractors to clearly let job seekers know that they won’t be discriminated against by using an inclusive tagline.
Most recently, the OFCCP added IWDs and veterans to the list of job seekers protected from discrimination. To date, the anti-discrimination language REQUIRED in job advertisements is as follows:
“We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.”
Collect data according to regulations
C stands for Collect the data! This is similar to A, but extends to more general data outside of just applicants. The updated regulations from last year require companies that have contracts with the federal government to collect basic annual data on both applicants and hires. In order for companies to collect the necessary data, applicants must fill out a special EEOC-related form.
To give you a better idea of information the OFCCP is looking for, the following are some of the annual data that must be collected and retained for 3 years:
· The number of job openings
· The number of jobs filled
· The total number of job applicants
· The total number of applicants hired
· The number of applicants who self-identify as IWDs
· The number of applicants with disabilities hired
Hopefully this quick guide to recruiting is helpful to new recruiters working to comply with OFCCP guidelines for the first time. While these ABC’s cover the basics and at least get you pointed in the right direction, the guidelines are incredibly specific. Be sure to visit the OFCCP website to make sure you’re doing everything you can to promote workplace diversity and inclusion in accordance with the law.
By Anna McDevitt on May 17, 2021
As an employer, it is imperative that you make sure your workplace is accessible, comfortable, and safe to all employees, and this often requires providing accommodations for individuals with disabilities (IWDs). The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act actually entitles IWDs to several workplace accommodations, and you can find more information on that here.
While some employers worry that the cost of such accommodations can break the bank, the opposite is true. In fact, a study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) through the US DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy earlier this year found that providing workplace accommodations are actually low cost and high impact, making it easy to comply with regulations and diversify your team. Here are some low-cost suggestions for making IWDs feel welcome and comfortable in your workplace.
Actively recruit IWDs
Federal contractors are required to conduct outreach to IWDs as part of their affirmative action plans, so it is important to make your job openings easily accessible to the disabled community. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the government agency tasked with assisting employers with this, offers all kinds of resources to help federal contractor hire IWDs, including these toolkits. The Job Accommodation Network, the National Business and Disability Council, and the US Department of Labor website are also great resources for recruiting IWDs that will diversify your workforce.
Offer a flexible schedule
From medical appointments to physical limitations, working a regular, full day can be difficult for IWDs in the workforce. This is especially true for IWD’s experiencing the side effects of medication (such as low energy) or with physical conditions that make working on your feet all day painful. An easy solution to accommodate IWDs with these limitations is offering a flexible work schedule. Doing so can increase productivity and send the message that you value and support your employees with disabilities.
Welcome service animals in the workplace
Service animals can be an amazing resource for IWDs, allowing them to overcome the limitations that result from their disability. Service animals can be useful in cases of physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability, so openly welcoming and encouraging them in your workplace is a huge asset. For example, high-stress work environments can result in poor job performance and attendance for IWD’s with psychiatric disorders such as PTSD. Encouraging the use of a service animal in such cases could improve productivity, attendance, and morale.
Have an emergency preparedness plan for IWDs
All of your employees should feel safe and secure in the workplace, and IWD’s on your team are no exception. Make sure that the needs of IWDs aren’t overlooked during emergency planning for natural and man-made disasters. If you’re a federal contractor, this guide on the Department of Labor’s website will help make sure you don’t miss anything important while planning for emergencies. Additionally, it’s helpful to include any IWDs on your team in this planning process, or at the very least inform them of it.
Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month
A great way to communicate the appreciation you have for the hardworking IWDs on your team is to celebrate National Disability Employment Month every October. This celebration of IWD’s in the workforce started way back in 1945 when Congress designated the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. The name has since changed, but the important message remains the same.
The hashtag for NDEAM is #InclusionWorks. If your company has a social media presence, incorporate fun ways for you and your employees to use the hashtag and build community online. You can also order poster for your office here on the ODEP’s website.
By Brad Bickel on September 8, 2020
On September 14, the Department of Labor will be hosting a Compliance Assistance Summit to go over the initiatives the OFCCP has put in place over the last few years to assist Federal Contractors on topics to keep them in compliance with regulations such as Executive Order 11245, The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The department will be discussing Compliance assitance tools with panelists from the Office of Disability Employment Policy, OFCCP, and WHD (Wage and Hour Division). It can be confusing and sometimes information on how exactly to keep in Compliance with regulations can be elusive and difficult to understand. Over the last year, the OFCCP has been trying to offer programs and panels to help Contractors answer these questions with a sense of anonymity that their company's businsess and federal contracts won't be targeted as a result of asking certain things. JobCirc's Compliance experts have gone through decades of audits and understand OFCCP patterns as they begin to take hold, which allows us to offer Compliance expertise to our clients. We see first-hand what the OFCCP is after in the event of an audit, and we build our solution around this.
This no-cost webinar is a great opportunity for all Federal Contractors to learn more about the internal workings of the OFCCP and Department of Labor. JobCirc will be in attendance and we hope you'll come too.
Date: Monday, September 14, 2020
Time: 7-9:30 PT
Registration Link: https://lnks.gd/l/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJidWxsZXRpbl9saW5rX2lkIjoxMDQsInVyaSI6ImJwMjpjbGljayIsImJ1bGxldGluX2lkIjoiMjAyMDA5MDMuMjY1NTA2NDEiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL3d3dy5ldmVudGJyaXRlLmNvbS9lL2FkdmFuY2luZy1jb21wbGlhbmNlLXNvbHV0aW9ucy1mb3ItdG9kYXlzLXdvcmtwbGFjZS0yLXllYXJzLWFuZC1jb3VudGluZy10aWNrZXRzLTExODk1MzE5NzIxNT91dG1fY2FtcGFpZ249JnV0bV9tZWRpdW09ZW1haWwmdXRtX3NvdXJjZT1nb3ZkZWxpdmVyeSJ9.zSOraqdRsAGinnaWbGnC_0kJBrbyWNhQ9XR1j-QRYKw/s/695778443/br/83186784766-l
By John Reese on July 2, 2020
COVID has had an impact on us all. The HR industry is learning and adapting to new hiring processes, and the NILG has made some adaptations itself. Instead of hosting a 4-day conference at the Gaylord National Convention center, they've gone virtual.
The good news about this is the conference is now free. We get the same great information with talks by OFCCP Director Craig Leen, Department of Labor officials and membbers of OFCCP-related businesses such as Jackson Lewis, Charles River Associates and Booz Allen Hamilton, amongst others.
The conference wil be spread out, starting July 6th and going through August 27th. Even if your business has OFCCP guidelines in place, this is a unique opportunity to catch up on what's new or attend webinars on topics that you'd like to learn more about.
To view the agenda and sign up, visit https://nilgconference.com/webinar-series-agenda/. All webinars have descriptions so sign up for whatever catches your eye and enjoy the free knowledge.
By Anna McDevitt on May 26, 2017
Many employers look at titles of federal regulation, such as Section 503 under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and worry that workforce compliance will be a headache. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Regulations like Section 503 were instated to positively diversify the workforce and open the eyes of employers to new pools of qualified applicants. To make Section 503 less intimidating, here’s a quick breakdown of the regulations and what they mean for you if you’re a federal contractor.
What is Section 503?
In September 2013, the federal government made a historical final ruling on hiring individuals with disabilities (also known as IWDs) in the workplace, requiring that all federal contractors implement a 7% hiring goal under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In the 40 years prior to the final ruling, The Rehabilitation Act just generally prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against IWDs. Specifically, it required employers to “actively recruit, hire, promote, and retain individuals with disabilities.”
The updated regulations became effective in March 2014, and since then the regulation has required federal contractors to realize a hiring goal of 7% within each job group of their company. Examples of job groups include managers, technicians, sales workers, laborers, and administrators. An exception applies to employers with less than 100 employees, in which case the 7% hiring goal applies to the entire company, instead of each separate job group.
Individuals with disabilities live with a wide range of conditions that fall under the umbrella of disabilities. Rather than imposing disability status on individuals, Section 503 requires that federal contractors invite applicants to self-identify as IWDs. An invitation to self-identify as an IWD must be offered both in the pre-offer and the post-offer phase of the hiring process, and OFCCP provides mandated language to be used for this in the self-identification form on its website. Under the regulations, contractors must remember to invite their employees to self-identify every 5 years.
To help federal contractors effectively recruit and retain individuals with disabilities, the regulations require employers to track the number of IWDs who apply for their jobs as well as the number hired. The data has to be maintained for 3 years for compliance reasons. If this data brings attention to potential problem areas, employers are required to address them with formal action-oriented programs to meet the 7% hiring goal. In 2015, OFCCP posted new Sample Affirmative Action Plans that contractors could use for this.
The idea behind this kind of tracking and data analysis is to provide employers with quantitative data that can be used to gauge the effectiveness of their recruitment and retention strategies. To further promote accountability, Section 503 requires federal contractors to provide OFCCP with these compliance documents upon request. This part of the regulations allows OFCCP to conduct on or off-site reviews if deemed necessary.
So, if you’re a federal contractor, hopefully this breakdown helps you to better understand your responsibilities as an employer under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. There have been some additional amendments to Section 503 more recently, but the basics remain unchanged. While some see OFCCP compliance as a form of government overreach, the benefits of diversifying the workforce and accessing more qualified pools of employees with IWDs is undeniable.
For more information on how to foster an inclusive work environment under Section 503, check out these resources that OFCCP provides for federal contractors on their website.
By Max Cadenasso on February 9, 2017
As an employer, it’s important to recognize the value of hiring veterans in the workplace, especially given OFCCP rules to recruit, hire, promote, and retain veterans. In addition to noticeable leadership and technical skills, veterans tend to come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, which can add tremendous value to your team. But the focus of veterans in the workplace needs to go beyond the upfront hiring process and include efforts to retain veterans. Doing so can benefit your company in huge ways, not to mention the tax incentives that hiring a veteran makes you eligible for under the Work Opportunity Tax Credits (WOTC).
Actively recruit on veteran job boards
The easiest thing you can do to hire veterans is to make the positions you’re hiring for accessible by posting on veteran-focused job boards. If veterans can easily find your jobs online, they can easily apply to them.
The first step to do this successfully is to use the resources available you as an employer by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on their Vets.gov website. The site allows you to post jobs on their job board for veterans, and it also provides workplace support for employers who hire veterans. Other places to make your jobs accessible to veterans entering the workforce are the Army Career Alumni Program and the Wounded Warrior Project. JobCirc partners with veteran job boards and sends your jobs to local centers which multiplies any efforts made on your own.
Invest in EAPs
Employee Assistant Programs (EAPs) can be incredibly valuable for all employees, but being an employer who offers EAPs may standout to Veterans entering the workforce. EAPs can come in all shapes and sizes, from resources for grief and loss, relationship counseling, career advancement support, as well as educational and financial planning. Offering EAP benefits to your employees will do a lot to attract veterans to your company, as well as keep them on your team. You can learn more about EAPs here.
Clearly communicate expectations and deliverables
The transition from military life to the workforce can be a challenging one, and it’s important to make it clear that you as an employer are going to make that transition as smooth as possible for veterans interested in joining your company. Veterans come from a military background comprised of a strict daily structure and chain of command that civilians aren’t familiar with. The path to success and advancement is not as clearly outlined in the corporate world as it is in the military.
For a veteran entering the corporate world, employers who can clearly communicate expectations, deliverables, and opportunities for advancement will be the most successful at hiring and retaining Veterans. For example, if as a manager you are unhappy with the performance of a veteran on your team, it’s important to communicate specifically what you’re unhappy with and exactly how your veteran employee can improve.
Value your Veterans
Recognizing and communicating the value of veterans on your team is key to ensuring that Veterans not only join, but also continue working with and investing in your company. Veterans tend to have a strong work ethic and an extraordinary ability to work well on teams—skills that most employers seek. Hiring veterans allows you to diversify your team and provide the heroes who fought for our country with a steady income and professional development, all while reducing your income tax liability.
By Anna McDevitt on January 13, 2017
Today, talented and qualified women make up close to half of the job seeking population, yet the team members in many companies still don’t reflect that reality. The OFCCP has regulations in place to ensure workplace diversity, but it’s your job as an employer to source and recruit your applicants in the right way to make your company an inclusive environment that values what qualified women bring to the table.
To get you started, here are 6 tips to recruiting and retaining women to your team:
1. Post your jobs where women will find them
It goes without saying that if women don’t see your job posting, they won’t apply to work with you. So, the first step to recruiting women onto you team is to advertise where women look. Figuring out where women look for jobs will require a little bit of research on your end, but it’s the best way to make your jobs accessible to everyone. Try looking for women’s job boards in your field, reach out to local women’s organizations, or attend careers fairs at women’s colleges.
2. Make sure your job advertisements are recruiting to women
In addition to the OFCCP job ad tagline that is required by law to let job seekers know that they won’t be discriminated against, including women, it’s important to make sure the content of your job post is recruiting to both men and women. This can be difficult to look out for, so a great way to ensure that your job posts are appealing to job seeking women is to have current female employees take a look at it and make suggestions. The added bonus here is that it will send the message to those employees that women are highly valued on your team.
3. Offer benefits that are attractive to women
If your company offers a benefits package that supports women, pregnancy, and a work-life balance for those with families, finding qualified female applicants will be a breeze. Benefits that women look for might include a supportive maternity leave policy, onsite childcare, a flexible schedule, or the option to work from home. Benefits like these will help you recruit, hire, and retain women on your team for the long term.
4. Make a diversity a company priority
Making sure that your employees understand the importance of workplace diversity and the value that women bring to your company is key to ensuring that women feel welcomed and valued on your team. The value of having more women on your team is especially important to communicate to and instill in your recruiters, interviewers, and HR employees. One way to make sure this is communicated is to let your current employees know about job openings and asking them to recommend female friends or family that might be qualified.
5. Promote women into leadership positions
Having women in roles on every level of your company is essential to recruiting and retaining more women on your team. Women are talented and natural leaders, and promoting more women into positions of power will send the message that you expect other female employees to take on leadership as well. Not to mention that it creates the opportunity for mentoring relationships among women on your team.
6. Implement a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy
Last, but certainly not least, sexual harassment should never be tolerated in the workplace, and as a boss it is your job to communicate that your team has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination. Communicating a zero-tolerance policy during the interview process, in job manuals, and during team meetings that discuss community expectations is essential to taking sexual harassment seriously. Doing so will make the women with your company feel safe and valued.
By Max Cadenasso on December 16, 2016
Apprenticeship has proved itself to be an important tool for training the American workforce and growing the economy. But just like the rest of the workforce, apprenticeship programs can benefit from reaching a larger and more diverse pool of workers. As a result, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recently released new equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations to apply to apprenticeship programs in the US.
Goals of the updated EEO regulations
The original EEO rules for apprenticeship published in 1978, and it’s no secret that the American workforce has changed drastically since then. In order to keep up with modern values of celebrating diversity and renouncing discrimination, the updated regulations strive to make apprenticeship more accessible to marginalized pools of applicants, such as minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities.
For example, today women make up almost half of the American workforce, yet they represent less that 10 percent of registered apprentices. In light of these statistics, apprenticeship programs aren’t allowing minorities and other marginalized groups realize their full talent potential. So, the goal of the updated EEO regulations is to provide all American workers with the opportunity to take part in programs that will develop their skills and set them up for success in careers that pay well.
When the first EEO rules for apprenticeship came out over 35 years ago, the regulations simply prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. At the time, these regulations were revolutionary in provided equal access to apprenticeship in the US. Today, the rules have been updated to provide the same protection and access to individuals regardless of age, sexual orientation, ability, and genetic information.
The updated rule makes it easier for both workers to ensure their rights and for employers (or apprenticeship sponsors) to comply with the regulations. Under the new regulations, the expectations of apprenticeship programs are much clearer when it comes to recruitment, hiring, and retention. Apprenticeship programs also now have access to technical assistance to help them reach their affirmative action goals, not to mention more flexibility in reaching those goals.
The new regulations will go into effect in July 2017, 180 days after the rule is published. For more information on how to comply with the new regulations, check out the ETA’s website here.
By Anna McDevitt on August 24, 2016
Guidelines on sex discrimination were last notably updates in 1970, and a lot has changed in the workplace in those 40-plus years. Today, the nature and extent to which women participate in the workforce is substantially different, not to mention huge changes in case law. The OFCCP recognized that new regulations were needed to address the realities of today’s diverse workforce, and to properly align contractor responsibilities with current law.
Here are the main ways the sex discrimination law is being updated:
1) It expands the definition of sex
A broader definition of sex is perhaps the most notable change in the updated sex discrimination guidelines. Protections under the sex discrimination guidelines now include pregnancy, childbirth, pregnancy-related medical conditions, gender identity, transgender status, and sex stereotyping. You can find examples of prohibited treatment under the new guidelines here on the OFCCP website [LINK].
2) Discriminatory compensation is clarified
To better clarify what constitutes discriminatory compensation, the updated rule adopts the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 which revises the statute of limitations as to compensation claims. The regulations noticeably focus on the meaning of “similarly situated employees” to rule that federal contractors can’t pay different compensation to similarly situated employees on the basis of sex. The final rule clarifies that tasks performed, skills, effort, level of responsibility, working conditions, job difficulty, minimum qualification and more can be used to determine situational similarity among men and women in the workplace.
3) Pregnancy discrimination protections for women are specified
The updated rule incorporates the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act amendment to Title VII. Specifically, the rule prohibits contractors from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and requires them to “treat people of childbearing capacity and those affected by pregnancy childbirth, or related medical conditions the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe-benefit programs, as other person not so affected, but similar in their ability or inability to work.”
While the final rule is a bit hazy in that it doesn’t specify whether pregnant women need to be considered for affirmative action programs, it does specify that it is illegal to refuse to hire pregnant workers and it requires federal contractors to provide necessary accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace, at least to the extent that such accommodations would be provided for other workers with impairments. Examples of such accommodations include extra bathroom breaks, light-duty assignments, or alternative tasks. Once again, under the final rule, women are entitled to these accommodations in the event of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
4) It protects gender identity and transgender status
Under the updated rule, adverse treatment of employees based on failure to conform to gender norms and expectations about attire, appearance, or behavior is considered illegal sex discrimination. Additionally, the rule designates sex stereotyping as unlawful discrimination. For example, it cannot be enforced that an employee dress a certain way based on assumptions that they identify as male or female. The final rule also requires federal contractors to allow workers to use bathrooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.
For more information, you can read the regulations here, or check out this fact sheet and frequently asked questions guide on the OFCCP website.
By Anna McDevitt on July 21, 2016
It’s no secret that men and women aren’t treated equally in the workplace. Thanks to government regulation, the situation has somewhat improved in the last few decades, but women still face unfair discrimination at work. Such discrimination is illegal and it’s your responsibility as an employer to foster an environment that renounces sex discrimination.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) specifically defines the forms of sex discrimination that are illegal in the workplace, and you can find that information here. The CFR also provides a brief outline of some best practices to avoid sex discrimination. Here, we’ll breakdown these best practices into 7 actionable steps to keep sex discrimination out of the workplace.
1. Avoiding the use of gender-specific job titles such as “foreman” or “lineman” where gender-neutral alternatives are available.
Using gender-specific job titles can wrongly impose gender identification on an employee or make an employee feel like they don’t belong in their field of work. Great examples of replacing gender-specific job titles with gender-neutral alternatives include using “firefighter” instead of “fireman,” or “postal worker” instead of “mailman.”
2. Designating single-user restrooms, changing rooms, showers, or similar single-user facilities as sex-neutral.
This one is pretty straightforward. Using sex-neutral, single-user restrooms is the easiest way to make sure there is a restroom that everyone can feel safe in. It eliminates the possibility that an employee feels unsure about which restroom or changing room to use.
3. Providing, as a part of their broader accommodations policies, light duty, modified job duties or assignments, or other reasonable accommodations to employees who are unable to perform some of their job duties because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Pregnancy can create obvious challenges at work for women experiencing physical limitations or medical complications related to being pregnant, especially for those who work in physically demanding job groups. Accommodations for pregnant women are actually required by law under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and can include anything from alternative assignments, to additional breaks or unpaid leave.
4. Providing appropriate time off and flexible workplace policies for men and women.
There are plenty of reasons that both men and women may require time off during pregnancy or the pregnancy of a partner. Prenatal medical appointments, morning sickness, medical complications that require hospital visits, childbirth itself, and spending the necessary time bonding with newborn children are all great examples of this. It’s your job as an employer to appropriately accommodate this.
5. Encouraging men and women equally to engage in caregiving-related activities.
6. Fostering a climate in which women are not assumed to be more likely to provide family care than men.
Numbers 5 and 6 are very closely related and can be best understood when examined together. Promoting the idea that men and women should be equally responsible for family life and caregiving is one of the most challenging aspects of gender identity today. As an employer, it is in your best interest to encourage this kind of equality in your work environment. With men taking on more family responsibility, the burden on women to do so is reduced and will allow for a faster and more balanced return to work following pregnancy.
7. Fostering an environment in which all employees feel safe, welcome, and treated fairly, by developing and implementing procedures to ensure that employees are not harassed because of sex.
The CFR’s Sex Discrimination Guidelines provide constructive examples of how to foster this kind of safe and harassment-free environment. The first step is to communicate that harassment will not be tolerated. Second, provide anti-harassment training to all personnel. Third, Establish and implement procedures for handling and resolving complaints about harassment and intimidation based on sex.
For more detailed information, check out the Code of Federal Regulations’ Sex Discrimination Guidelines.