Back in December 2011, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) proposed rules that would impose new requirements on all federal contractors regarding employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Its most dramatic proposal would establish a seven percent nationwide utilization goal for employees with disabilities. In other words, OFCCP would expect seven percent of all employees within any job group—regardless of industry, location, or availability—to be individuals with a disability. OFCCP also solicited feedback on additional proposals, including use of utilization “ranges” in lieu of a fixed 7 percent target and “sub-goals,” which would establish a two percent utilization target for individuals with particularly severe or targeted disabilities. Under the current rules, federal contractors are not required to meet any particular numerical utilization goal.
The majority of the remaining proposed changes relate to additional data collection and record-keeping requirements, such as (1) requirements to invite applicants and (on an annual basis) employees to self-identify as an individual with a disability, and (2) requirements to maintain records related to the number of individuals with a disability applying for and hired into positions. Other proposals in the new rules would impose specific outreach obligations on contractors, such as a requirement that contractors engage in at least three specific types of outreach efforts to recruit individuals with disabilities.
The period for public comment on the OFCCP’s proposed rules closed in February, and final regulations, implementing the OFCCP’s proposals, perhaps with some modification, are widely expected to be published by the end of 2012. Additional information regarding the proposed rules is available from the OFCCP's website here.