Federal Contractors and Obligations to the Disabled Community

As many of you may be aware, an area where there has been increased focus from OFCCP is the employment activities concerning individuals with disabilities. With this in mind, I thought it might be a good time to address some of the general obligations that federal contractors have to deal with. The main regulation regarding the disabled community that OFCCP governs is Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This regulation requires that a federal contractor or subcontractor with a contract that exceeds $10,000.00 must have a provision within the contract stating that the company “will take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities”. The obligations of employers regarding employment activities include the following:

  1. Recruitment advertising and job application procedures
  2. Hiring, promotions, demotions, layoffs, etc.
  3. Compensation
  4. Job assignments
  5. Leave policies
  6. Fringe benefits
  7. Training, including financial support for training
  8. Company sponsored social events

Employers must also provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees with disabilities, so that they can perform their assigned job. In addition, accommodations must be provided in order to make company facilities accessible for individuals with disabilities. It is interesting to note that the federal contractors’ obligation to provide “reasonable accommodations” is not limited to employees. “Reasonable accommodations” must also be provided to potential employees who demonstrate that they are qualified for the application process, such as when a candidate arrives at the correct location and time to fill out an application (See 41CFR 60-741.2).

This brings us to the process of recruiting qualified candidates with disabilities. Utilizing tools such as websites, especially job boards and niche job boards, is a great way to connect with qualified candidates who are disabled, because these are very efficient and effective tools for reaching a large audience. For example, here at America’s Job Exchange, we help our customers connect with disabled candidates by not only displaying their openings on our website and within our own Disability Exchange, but also by distributing job postings to our partner website, www.abilitylinks.org, which caters to the disabled community. It appears that OFCCP is strongly encouraging contractors to cast the widest possible net in order to attract qualified candidates with disabilities.

I highly recommend that contractors take a very aggressive and proactive approach, beyond utilizing traditional methods such as job boards. Tactics such as reaching out to community organizations and schools that cater to the disabled can help to position your business very well towards meeting your requirements. Other ideas include sponsoring an employment open house for candidates with disabilities, and providing mentoring programs geared towards the disabled. In my opinion, using these methods and programs will not only allow you to attract candidates that could bring great value to your business, but also help to prepare your company for an OFCCP audit. Please feel free to comment and discuss. Regards, Alan Klapman

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