Vice President Biden announced two new rules that represent an historic advance for veterans and individuals with disabilities. By strengthening longstanding regulations under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, the new rules will ensure that qualified workers have more meaningful opportunities to find, secure and keep good jobs.
For the first time, these rules provide metrics — management tools that inform decision-making and provide real accountability — to measure federal contractors’ progress toward achieving equal opportunity for people with disabilities and protected veterans.
- The VEVRAA rule requires contractors to establish an annual hiring benchmark, either based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8%), or based on the best available data and factors unique to their establishments.
- The Section 503 rule establishes an aspirational 7% utilization goal for the employment of individuals with disabilities.
The rules will also facilitate the success of companies that do business with the federal government, by increasing their access to a large, diverse pool of qualified workers.
The need for these rules is clear – unemployment for certain veterans and persons with disabilities is disproportionately high.
- Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have given so much to serve their country, should be able to find employment – yet the annual unemployment rate for post-September 2001 veterans is higher than the rates for all veterans and for nonveterans.
- The unemployment rate for working-age people with disabilities in 2012 was 15%, compared with a rate of 8% for working age individuals without disabilities. This substantial disparity persists despite years of technological advances that have made it possible for many people with disabilities to apply for and successfully perform a broad array of jobs.
Being a federal contractor is a privilege – one that comes with the reasonable expectation to abide by the law and provide equal employment opportunity to all workers. Today’s new rules make those expectations clearer and more meaningful.
The rules will be published shortly in the Federal Register and will take effect 180 days later. You can read the Final Rules as well as find other information on the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) from OFCCP – Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act and OFCCP – Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.