Actionable Tips to Meet New Record Keeping and Metrics Mandates by the OFCCP

events-detail-page-oct2013-webinarThe Federal Register has updated two new rules very recently.  One governs regulations for hiring protected veterans (VEVRAA), and another governs the regulations for hiring candidates with disabilities, namely Section 503 of The Rehabilitation Act. Both rules go in effect March 24, 2014.  These regulations have raised the bar for record keeping and heightened the enforcement of current regulations.  These regulations are fairly complex and the requirements are not completely black and white.  Naturally, federal contractors and sub contractors have many unanswered questions.  Recently, on October 3, 2013, AJE President Rathin Sinha along with Julia Mendez of Poplefluent , conducted a webcast in an effort to make these new regulations and the intricacies of record keeping and analysis more lucid and accessible.

This was a follow-up to the highly attended Webcast that  they held in August, highlighting the hiring strategies of a diverse workforce, where 500 plus participants registered, their second webcast focused specifically on record keeping, best practices for applicant records, and records of good faith efforts Once again more than 500 registered and over 300 called in making it another very successful webinar effort.

Julia started the webinar by discussingthe new OFCCP requirements for record keeping.  In fact, improper record keeping is the number one cited violation and in the top three for violations in the past three years for OFCCP audit.  Julia stressed that in order to have a smooth OFCCP compliance review, federal contractors and sub contractors need to keep copies of applications, test results, interview notes, AAP related documents for the required retention period.  There should be available, support data for applicant flow, including hires, terminations, promotions and other hiring info, as well as the impact of tests on hiring efficiency. Records should be kept for one year if the company has less than 150 employee and less than $150,000 in government contracts.  For over 150 employees and government contracts over $150,000, AAP should be kept for two years.   If the company is under audit by a federal or state agency, records have to be kept for the duration of the investigation.

Rathin elaborated upon what America’s Job Exchange does best, solutions for Internet outreach to diversity applicants and maintaining  applicant outreach records in the event of an OFCCP audit.  The idea is to cover all bases in case of an OFCCP review.  The stringent new rules have reduced the margin of error allowed by federal contractors.  Therefore the need for meticulous records is paramount.  All job listings, including jobs for veterans and disabled should be placed in job boards, like AJE, and also in state and local 1-Stop Centers.  There has to be clear proof of outreach efforts including proof that all jobs were posted in job sites, and that same jobs were sent to state and local agencies in a usable form.  An effective tool should be used to measure the effectiveness of outreach; number of views and applications to job listings and information about applicant flow and how outreach efforts helped in achieving actual hires.  AJE has a comprehensive 10-step approach for recruitment outreach.  Records are kept in the format of reports for the company by whole or by division, detailed outreach efforts and distribution information are maintained in a PDF and Excel format, and documentation of individual job record details distributed to network partners and the states, as well as links to job descriptions on AJE exchange sites with links to outreach partner sites are available for audit.  AJE’s proof of outreach is documented on AJE website, Rathin said.  There are links to active and past jobs.  For expired jobs, post date and expiry dates are clearly stated for transparency and accountability.  Actual job posting on partner sites are always readily available as well.  Individual jobs can be tracked by pulling up links to emails and CSV files as evidence of distribution to community partners and state one-stop offices.  When jobs are posted to the states a confirmation ID is given which AJE saves and can produce at the time of review.  Another proof of outreach takes the form of daily news delivered with job listings within 25 miles of 1-stop centers.  Screen shots of job postings on the state job site are saved in a database for 2 years.

Rathin also explained the strategies AJE employs to track the effectiveness of outreach efforts.  Source of each candidate is identifiable by the use of tracking codes.  Postings can be compared with the number of views and clicks to understand if target audience has been reached.  The reporting summary is organized and accessible online 24/7.

An integral part of record keeping is also to document good faith efforts.  For example, job postings should have the basic job requirements listed clearly, with requisition information and format of application.   Documentation of selection decisions (hires, promotions, terminations), paperwork on any training provided to managers on AAP obligations, and copies of all job descriptions should be handy.  Additionally, all internal dissemination records should be strictly maintained.  These are newsletters featuring AA/EEO information or articles, employee handbook, HR manual, and email/letters regarding AA/EEO.  The OFCCP audit also requires companies to keep records of all policies and procedures including advertising, job application procedures, promotions, terminations, tenure, rates of pay, job assignments and descriptions, sick leaves or any other absence policy.

For federal contractors to be compliant, they have to incorporate meticulous data collection tools as part of their strategy in preparation for an OFCCP audit.  The number of jobs, number of people who applied for those jobs, number of applicants with disabilities, and information on total number of applicants need to be maintained for 3 years.  Invitation to identify as veterans and disabled candidates should occur pre and post offer.  The EO clause must be incorporated.

Additional good faith efforts to hire candidates with disabilities need to be recorded in the form of narrative, self-identification form, procedure for accommodation request, list of accommodations made, outreach efforts, recruitment logs and review of web accessibility.

Revised VEVRAA rules require data to be recorded pertaining to number of protected veteran that applied, the number of jobs available, total number of applicants per job and number of protected veterans hired and total number of applicants hired.  Companies need to establish a hiring benchmark annually which should coincide with the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force which currently is 8%.  These records have to be maintained for three years.  The OFCCP has mandatory job listing requirement that federal contractors must post.  Firstly, the job listing must be in a format approved by ESDS and indicate that such a job desires priority referrals of protected veterans for its opening.  Contact information of hiring official must be provided and who can then verify the info in the job listing.  The EEO clause has to be clearly stated in job listings and job advertisements.  For three years, certain records must be maintained.  Namely, evaluations of outreach and recruitment efforts, comparison data regarding applicants and employees and records relating to hiring benchmark requirements, self –id form, proof of posting with ESDS and other outreach.

                   The new rules are extensive and stringent. Use strategies outlined in the webinar and check AJE website for latest updates, tips and news for a smooth OFCCP review experience.

For Webinar audio link click here

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