In addition to the strong business case and return on investment for hiring people with disabilities, the federal government also thinks hiring people with disabilities should be a national priority.

On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Final Rule that makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Section 503 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote and retain these individuals. The Final Rule strengthens the affirmative action provisions of the regulations to aid contractors in their efforts to recruit, hire and improve job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Highlights of the Final Rule include:

  • A national 7% utilization goal for individuals with disabilities across job groups.
  • The mandate that contractors must document and update comparisons for the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and the number who are hired.
  • An invitation to self-identify/self-disclose a disability.
  • Incorporation of the equal opportunity clause into subcontracts.
  • Access for the OFCCP for compliance checks or focused reviews.
  • A revision of the definition of “disability” and nondiscrimination provisions necessitated by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Each site determines its own hiring goals in order to comply with Section 503. OFCCP has developed a form for federal contractors to use to invite employees or applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability. You can access the form and find additional information about the Final Rule on the Department of Labor OFCCP website.

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