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OFCCP: Ask the Experts
OFCCP Ask the Experts
OFFICE OF FEDERAL CONTRACT COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS
Ask the Experts is an online forum where federal contractors and subcontractors are invited to submit questions to industry experts related to OFCCP compliance, affirmative action planning, and equal employment opportunity. Simply register your company on LocalJobNetwork.com to submit a question.
Updated DOL guidance on electronic self-ID systems...
Asked by Carrie H. - Sep 23, 2016
I received a notice from our ATS vendor that said the DOL recently updated their guidance on how electronic self-ID systems should work to be compliant. The vendor claims that employers must permit candidates to move through the forms without making a selection - even though, the form contains the "I prefer not to.." option. This means that candidates are essentially able to bypass the form.
Is this true? I cannot find the DOL source of the vendor claim.
Why would allowing a bypass be compliant when the candidate can choose the option not to disclose? If they bypass the form, what is our evidence that it was presented to the candidate?
As someone who has followed the field closely, I am not aware that DOL has recently provided additional guidance in this regard. If your ATS vendor is making this claim, you might want to ask about the specific OFCCP regulation, directive, FAQ, or other published item that shows this is the situation.
In the meantime, from what I know, you are allowed to use an "I prefer not to..." option rather than allowing candidates to bypass the form. In fact, I would suggest this is a far better way to deal with candidates, since we want to candidates to make a declaration (even it is "I prefer not to self-identify") rather than skipping survey forms.
A quick note on ATS vendors: we have seen multiple examples over the years of ATS improperly interpreting federal regulations, and multiple examples of ATS vendors providing improper advice on federal regulatory issues. I'm sure ATS vendors are doing their best to provide accurate information, but ATS vendors do not spend the bulk of their time dealing with the increasing complexities in the EEO/AA world.
Applicants/Union/Seniority question for EEO/AAP
Asked by Heather K. - Sep 23, 2016
We are a federal contractor and also are union. Due to the nature of our business we often lay off people for short periods of time and then call them back from the union based on seniority when we need them back. For Affirmative Action Plan purposes, are we supposed to track every person called back from the union as an "applicant" each time they are rehired? And when we rehire someone by requesting them back from the union, are they considered an external or internal applicant (if they are supposed to be tracked as an applicant each time they are rehired)? Are we required to post the job on the state job board when we call people back even though our union contract specifies we must call back people with seniority from the union when we have the position available again? Are there any resources available for ofccp compliance specifically for union employers?
Do you treat a layoff as a termination? if not, then when employees return from layoff, they are not being hired and you should not treat them as applicants.
If you DO treat a layoff as a termination, and therefore treat the return from layoff as a hire, then the person returning from layoff is an applicant. However, it doesn't make sense to post with the state job board or do any other form of outreach if no other candidates will be considered. (This is especially the case if the rehire is dictated by the provision of your bargaining agreement.) You would simply want to explain to OFCCP that the only person considered is the person who previously held the job and who was to be "rehired" under the terms of your bargaining agreement.
When providing data to OFCCP, some federal contractors include data on layoffs and recalls. While OFCCP might not require this data under its formal regulations, including data on layoffs and recalls helps to ensure that the various statistical components in your affirmative action plans match. This is something you may want to consider, especially if you are now showing layoffs and recalls as terminations and hires.
The discussion above assumes that your company is a supply and service contractor. If your company is a construction company that uses a union hiring hall, then what you've described as a layoff may in fact be a termination. Some of our construction clients routinely hire individuals from a hiring hall for the duration of a specific project, release them from employment, and then hire then onto another project soon after. These individuals may cycle from project to project, and may feel like long-term regular employees. However, if the bargaining agreement with the union says that when a job is done, individuals who had been working on that job leave your company and return to the hiring hall, then you have a series of hires and terminations for the same individuals, with the hire being dictated by the union.
OFCCP has no resources that are specifically focused on union employers, though the affirmative action regulations have a number of references to unions. If the answers above aren't helpful, you may want to contact your local OFCCP office and see if they can provide you with technical assistance on how to deal with union issues in your AAPs.
EO Clause Incorporation
Asked by Anonymous - Sep 21, 2016
We are a financial institution held to Affirmative Action requirements as an FDIC member. I am aware of the EO Clause requirements in contracts, subcontracts and purchase orders, but have also heard that the EO Clause only needs to be included if the contract, subcontract, or purchase order is related to business of the government contract.
Is that statement accurate? Additionally, how does this apply if our only obligation is as an FDIC member and not a specific government contract? Must the EO clause still be included?
OFCCP views participation in the FDIC and entering into an agreement for insurance as a contract as defined by the regulations implementing Executive Order 11246, VEVRAA, and Section 503, all of which require equal employment opportunity by federal contractors.
The regulations define a government contract as “any agreement or agreement modification between any contracting agency and any person for the purchase, sale or use of personal property or non-personal services.” Because “non-personal services” includes insurance and fund depository services, OFCCP considers financial institutions with federal share and deposit insurance as government contractors.
Based on this, it is advisable that you include the EO clause in your contracts, subcontracts, and purchase orders.
Here's the first question you need to ask: where in the federal regulations does it say that FDIC membership subjects an organization to the federal affirmative action laws? OFCCP has an FAQ that says that FDIC insurance is a contract, but there is no specific language to that effect in the affirmative action regulations. There are a number of people in the professional community who would argue that FDIC insurance is NOT a contract, but is instead something else (federal mandate or whatever) that does not bring an organization within the scope of the affirmative action laws.
Something work checking with your attorney or professional advisor.
Let's assume, however, that your organization is covered by the affirmative action laws. It is accurate that there needs to be an EEO clause in contracts, etc. The regulations regarding protected veterans and individuals with disabilities have very specific language in this regard. It is also accurate that this language is only required when your organization is dealing with a vendor that is supplying something necessary to the completion to your federal contract.
Here's the problem most employers face: how do we structure our contracts and purchase orders to ensure we have the requisite EO language for all vendors associated with our federal contracts and only for these vendors? The answer most employers have come to is that it is easier to have the requisite EO language in all contracts and purchase orders rather than trying to segregate out the vendors who might be associated with federal work.
I think your most important question here is the one about whether your organization is covered by the affirmative action laws. If you decide you are covered, then it's probably easier to include the EO clause in all contracts and purchase orders.
Self Identification Responses
Asked by Anonymous - Sep 19, 2016
I have a few questions regarding self-identification under 503 and VEVRAA:
1) If an employee has answered 'no' on their disability self-identification form but the employer later finds that the employee can be classified as having a disability (through other medical documentation), can the employer override the self-id and count the employee in utilization analysis? Or must the employee voluntarily submit a new self-id form?
2) If an employee identifies and a disabled veteran but not as an individual with disability, can the disabled veteran response be used to override the disability response? Can the employer ask for clarification from the employee?
3) The VEVRAA FAQ's indicate that an employer may use pre-offer veteran responses of 'yes,' even if the individual answers 'no' during post-offer. Has any further guidance been provided for similar situations that may occur with individuals with disabilities?
4) Instead of altering employee responses, could an employer create additional reports to show adjusted IWD/Veteran response? In addition to the required reports, these reports might show an adjusted or 'unofficial' figure where the employer has now included employees who responded 'no,' but has reason to believe otherwise. Would this type of reporting hold any value in case of an OFCCP audit?
Employers are allowed to identify an employee as disabled if they know for a fact that it is the case. Your company will have to make a decision if they want to use only what is being provided in the self-identification forms or override the form based on their knowledge. I think that most employers are selecting to use only the information provided in the self-identification forms. Keep in mind that the OFCCP cannot penalize you for not having enough IWDs or Veterans because of the voluntary nature of the self-identification process.
I have been told that the terms that define someone as being a disabled veteran may not necessarily make someone disabled under the Rehabilitation Act or ADA; however, I am not totally sure of this. I would say that if you rely on the responses to the self-identification form, you will be safe.
I have not seen any further guidance with respect to differing responses on pre-and-post offer self-identification forms; however, there is nothing stopping you from following up with the employee to confirm their post offer selection.
Your idea for providing OFCCP with two different counts, one based on the responses to the self-identification forms and one based on your knowledge, would be okay to submit during an audit. I'm not sure if the different counts will really make that much of a difference in the long run.
New Hire Notices
Asked by Carrie H. - Sep 15, 2016
Does anyone have a consolidated list (or know where I can find one) of all the various state notices that have to be provided to new hires? I'm struggling to keep up with all the various government agency requirements in each state. Help.
The Department of Labor website for each individual state should provide that state’s notice requirements. Unfortunately, I am not aware of a consolidated list that will show the notice requirements for all states.
A listing of all the state labor offices and their contact information can be viewed here.
We don't list physical demands for each job posted and we were thinking of adding a general reasonable accommodation statement on all job descriptions/positions. What is best practice? Where do companies usually list their reasonable accommodations statement?
Federal contractors are required to state in all solicitations and job advertisements that they are an equal employment opportunity employer of individuals with disabilities. They are also required to invite applicants to self-identify as individuals with disabilities using the Voluntary Self-identification of Disability form, which does include a reasonable accommodation statement on page 2. Although contractors may not alter the content of the OFCCP’s voluntary self-identification form, contractors are encouraged to provide additional reasonable accommodation information with the form, such as the name and contact information of the official(s) responsible for processing requests for reasonable accommodation from applicants with disabilities and information about the contractor’s reasonable accommodation procedures. For additional information, refer to Appendix B of Section 503, which provides examples of “best practices” for contractors in developing reasonable accommodation procedures.
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