OFCCP announced just last Friday (2/22/2019) that it will publish a new Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL) (formerly known as Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letter or Courtesy Scheduling Announcement Letter) in “mid-to-late March.”
In August of last year, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a new directive aimed at increasing the number of focused Compliance Reviews the agency conducts. This year, the OFCCP plans to increase the number of focused reviews, along with the standard compliance reviews to over 3000.
To this end, the OFCCP recently published the New Scheduling Letter that will let contractors know they have been selected for a focused review regarding compliance with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These letters should be sent out to selected contractors in the Spring.
Here’s what you need to know to especially handle the OFCCP’s upcoming focused reviews related to Section 503.
Understanding Section 503:
Federal law prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It also requires employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.
Section 503 established a nationwide 7% utilization goal for qualified individuals with disabilities. This isn’t a quota. However, as part of the regulations, contractors are required to conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action‐oriented programs to address any identified problems toward attaining or exceeding the 7% goal.
Revisions to the law strengthened the affirmative action component of the regulations to better aid contractors in their efforts to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities, and improve job opportunities for these individuals.
According to the OFCCP, focused reviews are more concise than a standard compliance review because they cover one specific aspect of discrimination. In addition to Section 503, traditional compliance reviews also involve Executive Order 11246 which established requirements for non-discriminatory practices in hiring and employment, while the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 aimed at protecting veterans.
During a focused review the agency does not ask for anything beyond the scope of what it usually asks of federal contractors. Focused reviews are designed to reduce the burden of information requests on contractors. Additionally, they’re intended to reduce the burden on the agency conducting the reviews. And since these reviews are only focused on one aspect of compliance, the agency will request one third of the information that is usually requested.
Here are ten items you’ll need to provide:
1. A copy of your current Executive Order 11246 Affirmative Action Program
2. A copy of your current Section 503 AAP
3. Most recent assessment of personnel processes
4. Evaluation of the effectiveness of outreach and recruitment efforts to recruit qualified individuals with disabilities
5. Documentation of actions taken to comply with the audit and reporting system requirements
6. Documentation of the computations or comparisons for the immediately preceding AAP year
7. Utilization analysis evaluating representation of individuals with disabilities in each job group
8. Copies of your Employer Information Report EEO-1 for the last three years
9. Copy of your collective bargaining agreement, if applicable
10. Copies of reasonable accommodations policies and documentation on any accommodation requests and their resolutions
How to Prepare:
To ensure compliance across the board within your organization, you should conduct regular trainings with all members of staff. Section 503 training should also be an integral part of the onboarding process for decision makers in leadership positions most responsible for maintaining compliance.
Outreach is a key component of compliance efforts. Establish relationships with organizations that work with individuals with disabilities, such as rehabilitation centers, nonprofits, and activist groups. Make members of these groups aware of job opportunities within your organization and let them know how they can get involved.
As part of Section 503, contractors are required to conduct regular self audits. Make sure to meet these requirements so that when an OFCCP review rolls around you have the required documentation.
In addition to regular audits, make sure you maintain detailed documentation of your compliance efforts to ensure you have all of the required paperwork requested as part of a focused review. Keep easily accessible records of all necessary employment data and look for gaps in your reporting.
The OFCCP has yet to publish scheduling letters for focused reviews involving the other laws the agency enforces. These reviews will likely present their own unique challenges and federal contractors should be prepared.