Please Note: The tips outlined in this guide should not be used in place of legal advice.
Over the next four years, the federal government will be pouring billions into improving the country’s infrastructure. Federal dollars will be handed out to companies to improve roads, bridges, and mass transit, water infrastructure, resilience and broadband. Winning bids for these jobs require construction companies to become federal contractors and adhere to standards set by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Remaining compliant with these guidelines takes some understanding about what’s involved along with some professional advice.
What is the OFCCP?
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) exists to ensure federal contractors and subcontractors are providing fair employment opportunities and taking affirmative actions in hiring and advancing diverse individuals.
The OFCCP governs employment-related activities in the following areas:
The OFCCP enforces three employment laws: Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and VEVRAA.
Executive Order 11246
Applies to: Federal contractors and subcontractors earning $10,000 or more in federal business annually. A federal contractor or subcontractor with a federal contract exceeding $50,000 with 50 or more employees must also maintain an Affirmative Action Program (AAP).
Purpose: This law prohibits discrimination in all employment-related activities. Specifically, contractors must no discriminate in any employment-related activity based on an employee’s:
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
- National Origin
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act
Applies to: Federal contractors and subcontractors with a contract amount of $15,000 or greater. Contractors and subcontractors with over 50 employees and a contract exceeding $50,000 must also have an AAP in place under Section 503 Subpart C.
Purpose: Section 503 prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Under Section 503 Subpart C, contractors must also take affirmative action to employ and advance qualified individuals with disabilities.
Disabilities under Section 503 include:
- A physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities of that individual
- A previous record of such impairment
- Being regarded as having such an impairment
Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)
Applies to: Federal contractors and subcontractors with a contract amount of $100,000 or more and 50 or more employees.
Purpose: VEVRAA exists to prohibit employment discrimination against protected veterans. VEVRAA also establishes a hiring benchmark, indicating that 6.4 percent of the total workforce should be veterans.
What is a protected veteran?
- An individual who served on active duty in the U.S. Military who did not receive a dishonorable discharge. This includes:
- Disabled Veterans
- Recently separated veterans (within the last three years)
- Active duty wartime or campaign badge veterans
- Armed forces service medal veterans
Learn more about protected veteran status here.
What HR Should Do to Stay Compliant
Here are a few ways HR teams can reach OFCCP compliance. These tips are not all-inclusive.
Don’t Discriminate – Don’t discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin.
Invest in Workforce Management Software – Recruiting and hiring with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), making promotion and compensation decisions with a Performance Management System and delivering manager training on non-discriminatory practices can all be done with software solutions. The proper workforce management software can help contractors stay compliant with the OFCCP.
Keep Records of All Employee-Related Decisions – Federal contractors and subcontractors should maintain records of all employee-related decisions for a minimum of two years. This can easily be accomplished with a centralized recordkeeping system, but contractors may also use paper files.
Create and Maintain an Affirmative Action Program – Affirmative Action Programs (AAP) are designed to ensure equal employment opportunity in all employment-related activities. AAPs aren’t required for every federal contractor or subcontractor, but it’s a good practice to create and maintain one regardless of the contract dollar amount or number of employees. You never know when you might win a bid for additional federal contracts. AAPs must be reviewed and updated annually.
Include the Equal Employment Opportunity Tagline in All Job Ads – Include something like this in every job posting: “Equal Opportunity Employer, including disabled and veterans.”
Advertise Jobs with Diverse Job Boards – Good faith recruiting efforts should include outreach to individuals with disabilities and veterans. This can be done by utilizing state and local workforce job sites and niche job boards for job postings.
Track Job Board Search Terms – When searching on third-party job boards, recruiters must track and save the search terms used to find candidates for each search conducted.
Track Hiring Decisions – The OFCCP’s main source of failed audits lies in defending hiring decisions. Each applicant that is reviewed must have a reasoning behind what happens next. Whether or not you decide to hire them, provide reasoning for that decision. Disposition codes can help determine and organize hiring decisions at a glance.
Include Voluntary Self-Identification Forms – Use a voluntary self-identification form in your job application. This will help track the success of affirmative action outreach. Include a questionnaire with options for race/ethnicity, gender, veteran status and disability status. Be sure to include a response like “I do not wish to answer,” for each question, as the information provided by a candidate should be voluntary.
Post EEO Posters – Federal contractors are legally required to have an EEO poster on the premises. Click here to download an EEO poster from the OFCCP website.
Assess Your Compliance Today
There are many aspects of OFCCP compliance not included in this guide. Request a Free HR Assessment to determine if Arcoro can help you maintain a higher level of OFCCP compliance.