Posts Tagged ‘affirmative action’

DOL Issues New Veteran Employment Reporting Form, Replacing Vets 100 for U.S. Contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor played taps this week for a system of reporting on the employment of veterans by federal contractors and replaced it with what it described as a new and improved version that it says will take contractors less time to complete and be more useful in assessing how well they are meeting their affirmative action commitments.

The new rules apply to reporting by federal contractors subject to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

Under the rule contractors will have to file what’s called the VETS-4212 showing aggregate data on the total number of protected veterans employed and newly hired by federal contractors, the total number of employees in the workforce, and the total number of new hires.

The new form replaces the VETS 100, which had required reporting of data on veterans’ employment by the 10 occupational categories and subcategories found on the revised EEO-1 Report, and by each of the four categories of veterans protected under the 2008 Job for Veterans Act amendments to VEVRAA.

The big difference is that under the new form the contractor has to report on the total number of veterans hired, whereas under the VETS 100 it had to break down that information by specific category of protected veteran, for example, Vietnam Veterans in one listing and disabled veterans in another.

Reporting veteran hiring information by job category is optional but not required on the VETS-4212.

DOL boasts that the new form requires 50 percent fewer reportable items than the VETS 100A.

The final rule was published in Thursday’s Federal Register.

DOL Posts VEVRAA Hiring Benchmark Database

Need help establishing a hiring benchmark for disabled and Vietnam-Era veterans? Have no fear. The U.S. Department of Labor is at your service.

DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces affirmative action requirements under the  Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), just posted a VEVRRA benchmark database chock full of useful information as contractors go about establishing their hiring benchmark.

Under new rules, VEVRAA requires contractors to establish a hiring benchmark for protected veterans each year or adopt the OFCCP’s national benchmark. Under either approach, contractors must compare the percentage of employees who are protected veterans in each of their establishments to the hiring benchmark set for that establishment. Contractors should use the result of this comparison when assessing the effectiveness of their veteran outreach and recruitment efforts.

“This VEVRAA Benchmark Database provides additional information regarding the establishment of hiring benchmarks and easy access to the national and State data that may be needed to establish these benchmarks,” DOL said.

The database defines important terms, discusses methods for establishing the benchmark, and provides an example of using the five-factor test to develop an individualized hiring benchmark. Those factors are:

  1. The average percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force for the State where the establishment is located, for the previous three years;
  2. The number of veterans who participated in the employment service delivery system in the State where the establishment is located, over the previous four quarters;
  3. The applicant ratio and hiring ratio for the establishment for the previous year;
  4. The most recent assessment of the effectiveness of your outreach and recruitment efforts; and
  5. Any other factor, such as the nature of the job openings or the facility’s location, that would tend to affect the availability of qualified protected veterans,

For more information, go here.

House Panel to Query OFCCP on Rules Changes Under Rehabilitation Act and Vietnam Era Law

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will be under the congressional spotlight on Wednesday during a hearing concerning recent rule changes affecting contractors that employ persons with disabilities and Vietnam-era veterans.

At issue before the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections are rules enacted under the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act.

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) will examine what it calls “sweeping changes” to long standing policies under those statutes. According to the announcement, “the rules create significant administrative burdens by requiring contractors to conduct extensive analyses on their recruitment and hiring of veterans and individuals with disabilities.”

Among the rules the committee will look at closely–a requirement that federal contractors hire a certain percentage of covered veterans, and ensure that 7 percent of each job group in their workforce includes disabled individuals.

Contractors may lose their federal contracts if found not in compliance with these goals, the announcement says.

Some on the committee also look askance at the requirement for persons with disabilities to self-identify, “despite a clear prohibition against doing so in the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Wednesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to discuss the effects of these new regulations on workers and employers, as well as attempts by OFCCP to exert jurisdiction over health care providers.

Scheduled to testify at the hearing are OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu; David Fortney Co-Founder  Fortney & Scott, LLC Washington, D.C. Testifying on behalf of H.R. Policy Association;  Thomas C. Shanahan Vice President and General Counsel The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC;  Brian Fitzgerald Chief Executive Officer Easter Seals New Jersey East Brunswick, NJ; and Curt Kirschner Partner Jones Day San Francisco, CA Testifying on behalf of the American Hospital Association.

To learn more about this hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

Here’s a previous blog post I wrote on the new hiring goals.

 

Veterans’ Protection Laws: A Refresher

With the U.S. veterans of the Iraq war having returned home, and next year’s winding down of combat operations in Afghanistan, now is a good time for employers to redouble their efforts to make sure that those returning veterans who are looking for or to resume their civilian employment receive a fair shake under our employment laws.

Against that backdrop, here’s a refresher on the laws that apply to veterans:

  • the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This law requires prompt reemployment of returning veterans in their old jobs and restoration of all benefits they would have received had they not been in military service (the “escalator” principle) it also forbids discriminating against veterans because of their past, present or future service;
  • The Vietnam Era Veterans Reemployment Act (VEVRAA), which requires covered government contractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment specified categories of veterans, including those of the Vietnam War, disabled veterans, and veterans who, while on active duty, participated in military campaigns in which an Armed Forces Service medal was awarded;
  • Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which defines disability not only to include physical impairments but also impairment of major bodily functions such as the operation of the brain and neurological system, thus providing protection to veterans suffering from brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Also don’t forget laws intended to help the families of military members in their care for their loved ones in the armed forces. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for two types of military family leave referred to as “qualifying exigency leave” and “military caregiver leave.”

You can read up on the FMLA provision here.

And you can read up about EEO laws for veterans like USERRA and VEVRAA here.

Also check your state’s laws for possible additional protections for veterans in both private sector and public sector employment.

If you’re looking for an employer to emulate in hiring veterans, try Home Depot. The home improvement chain hired more than 10,000 veterans in 2012. As part of the Joining Forces campaign led by first lady Michelle Obama, the company committed to increase veteran hiring by 10 percent each year over the next five years.

What’s their secret? Maybe the fact that the company encourages employees to think of the job as a mission–a concept that military veterans understand.

To learn more, check out this web page.

Md. Utility to Pay $350K To Settle DOL Finding Minorities Underrepresented in Training Program

We hear often that the key to economic growth is to provide employees more training opportunties so they can learn new skills and advance up the economic ladder. However, such opportunities only matter if everyone has access to them.

When access to training is denied–either through explicit or implicit barriers–everyone loses.

So it as heartening to learn this week that a large Maryland utility company has committed to mend it ways to make sure that minority applicants get a fair shot at climbing up the job ladder.

Baltimore Gas & Electric Company has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a finding by the U.S. Department of Labor that minority applicants were underrepresented in three specific utility trainee job categories in 2007 and 2008, the company announced last Friday.

According to the announcement, DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces the federal government’s affirmative action rules against government contractors, made the finding in 2009 after a random audit of 232 BGE job categories.

Under the settlement, BGE must provide a total of $350,000 in back pay, interest and value of benefits to up to 58 minority applicants who were not selected for utility trainee positions between December 2007 and November 2008.  In addition, BGE will hire up to six utility trainees from the applicant group.

BGE said that by the time of the audit, it had implemented a number of process improvements to ensure all applicants receive fair and consistent consideration for employment opportunities. These included reorganizing the business units responsible for hiring trainees into a single utility training unit with a centralized application and interview process, investing in improved applicant management software, and expanding employee diversity and inclusion training.

BGE, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 655,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland.

Read more.

OFCCP: Future AAPs Must Use 2010 Census Data

Attention federal contractors: It’s time to throw out that old census data from 2000 that you’ve been using for your affirmative action plans.

Starting with 2014 affirmative action plans, contractors must use data from teh 2010 census, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced recently.

Known as the “2010 EEO Tab.” the 2010 data replaces the Census 2000 Special EEO file that OFCCP and covered federal contractors began using in January 2005.

The requirement to use the latest census data applies to all affirmative action plans that commence on or after Jan. 1, 2014, OFCCP said.

Here’s the text of the notice.

Laws, Tax Credits Aim to Make Life Better for Veterans Returning to Civilian Employment

This Memorial Day is not only an opportunity to recognize the valor and sacrifice of soldiers who gave their lives in defense of this country, but also to renew our efforts to make sure veterans get employment when they return and that they are treated fairly on the job. Here’s a rundown of what our laws require vis-a-vis returning veterans.

Ban on Discrimination: Employers are prohibited under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act from discriminating in employment against service members upon their return from a period of military service. The laws includes protections for National Guard and reserve call-ups. The law is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).

Affirmative Action: The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act–or VEVRAA-federal contractors must take affirmative action to hire and promote qualified veterans, including disabled veterans. Despite the law’s name, its protections are not limited to Vietnam Era veterans. They also encompass disabled veterans and veterans who serve in military campaigns for which a campaign badge has been authorized by the Department of Defense. This statute is enforced by DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Neither of these laws, however, can compel an employer to hire a veteran. The veterans’ unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. To make a dent in that problem, the federal government provides a Work Opportunity Tax Credit to give employers a financial incentive to hire veterans. The credit, which was enacted in 2011, has been extended to the end of 2013.

This tax credit is for hiring the following eligible veterans:

• Short-term Unemployed: A new credit of 40% of the first $6,000 of wages (up to $2,400) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for at least 4 weeks.

• Long-term Unemployed: A new credit of 40% of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.Wounded Warrior Tax Credit

• Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: Maintains the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans with service-connected disabilities hired within one year of being discharged from the military. The credit is 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800).

• Long-Term Unemployed Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: A new credit of 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations.

Dont let these obligations and opportunities go to waste. Treat veterans the right way–and hire more of them–and they and the nation will benefit.