After a windy week in Denver, CO, the SWARM (South West And Rocky Mountain) Regional ILG Conference has adjourned. This popular conference brought together Human Resource professionals from all over the country to learn and discuss the developments in Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. One of the big ticket items on everyone’s mind was the implementation of the VEVRAA and Section 503 final rulings that went into effect on March 24, 2014.
Melissa Speer, a top OFCCP official and SWARM’s Regional Director, led an open forum to further understanding of the VEVRAA and Section 503 changes. She discussed the rescission of 41 CFR Part 60-250. This rescission eliminated the Vets 100 filing requirement (Vets 100A is still required), changed the definition of ‘protected veteran,’ removed ‘other protected,’ and added ‘active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran.’ The regulations also require Federal Contractors to collect additional data elements (Subpart C) for both veterans and those with disabilities. The audience pressed Ms. Speer to elaborate on the OFCCP’s data collection expectations of Federal Contractors under audit and was dismayed by the lack of direction provided. Ms. Speer continued to redirect contractors to focus on outreach and recruitment and measuring effectiveness in gaining the most qualified individuals within their workforce. She was also quick to remind everyone that “contractors have the obligation to create an annual written review of how well each outreach and recruitment effort is performing.”
In other presentations, prominent labor lawyers provided further insight regarding industry best practices for implementing the new requirements. Take-a-ways include:
- Utilize the ‘Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory’ found on the OFCCP website (http://www.dol-esa.gov/errd/resources.html) to identify local organizations that can assist with ‘training, recruiting, and hiring veterans and individuals with disabilities.’
- As a way to maximize the effectiveness of partner relationships, make it easy for candidates to identify the referral source; list specific partner agencies at the top of the ‘referral source’ drop down box within the online application system.
- Regulations stipulate that annual training must be provided to Hiring Managers. However, providing training to the entire organization values inclusion, and brings acceptability and open acknowledgement of disabilities.
- Ensure internal system and processes are easily accessible to anyone who wants to apply. Is assistive technology in place to help candidates with a disability to view online applications? Some examples of assistive technology include screen readers, magnification software, and voice activation software.
The most valuable take-a-way from this year’s conference was the reminder that the OFCCP is in transition. The OFCCP considers a contractor’s first AAP(s) developed after March 24, 2014 as a transitionary AAP. It is unclear how the implementation of the regulations will be carried out by the OFCCP in desk audit evaluations, but we are certain things will unfold after Subpart C is incorporated into OFCCP compliance evaluations.
It was a great week at the 2014 SWARM Conference. Our team not only gained valuable information to share but also enjoyed connecting with clients and colleagues in the industry. If you have any questions about implementing VEVRAA and Section 503 final rulings, please reach out to us.