Affirmative action programs for individuals with disabilities have been cited as historically overlooked by the OFCCP.
According to OFCCP Director Craig Leen, those days are over.
Earlier this month, Leen addressed the DC Metro Business Leadership Network, a chapter of Disability:IN (formerly US Business Leadership Network), which is a nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide.
In his presentation, Director Leen shared OFCCP’s primary focus in fiscal year (FY) 2019: Compliance with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and fair hiring and employment practices for individuals with disabilities.
In FY2019, the OFCCP will conduct approximately 500 focused reviews, which will take place on-site at the contractor’s corporate headquarters and possibly at regional offices as well. Audits will be comprehensive, involving site visits and interviews with the employer’s ADA coordinator, HR leadership, and (on a strictly volunteer basis) employees with disabilities.
Since Leen’s January presentation, OFCCP revealed its intent to dramatically increase compliance reviews this fiscal year—from fewer than 1,000 in FY2018 to as many as 3,500 in FY2019.
To help federal contractors seeking to deploy best practices in providing equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities, Affirmity captured key takeaways from Director Leen’s presentation.
Watch the video for full details (25:42)
In his presentation, Director Leen reviewed several best practices in hiring and employment of individuals with disabilities. The list includes requirements and optional strategies and program elements that will help employers ensure they provide equal employment opportunities.
7 Best Practices to Ensure Equal Employment for Individuals with Disabilities
- Centralize records and data regarding accommodation requests.
- Clearly document and present the commitment of your organization and its leadership to fair employment for individuals with disabilities.
- Coordinate with state and local agencies, including programs such as your state’s vocational rehabilitation office, the Ticket to Work program for Social Security recipients, or your local Center for Independent Living.
- If your organization accepts applications online, prominently display instructions for requesting an accommodation to apply for a job due to a disability. It is recommended that two forms of contacting the employer be listed (e.g. phone number and email address).
- Ensure your online recruiting portal is accessible.
- Prominently display instructions for requesting an accommodation to apply for a job due to a disability, including two contact options (e.g., phone number and email address).
- Test your portal’s accessibility using free online tools such as the Website Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) or the University of Illinois Functional Accessibility Evaluator.
- Encourage employees to self-identify as disabled. Effective initiatives to promote self-identification include
- Fielding transparent, voluntary surveys
- Sponsoring employee resource groups (aka affinity groups) for staff members with physical and cognitive disabilities
- Participating in and celebrating events such as National Disability Employment Awareness Month
- Sponsoring employee volunteerism with Easter Seals, Special Olympics, and other organizations that assist individuals with disabilities
- Providing disability awareness training for all staff members.
- Develop and promote inclusivity through focused programming.
- Track and document the effectiveness of recruitment strategies focused on individuals with disabilities.
What else is new this FY? Read: 3 Directives Issued by OFCCP for FY 2019
Reminder: CSALs to Be Posted Online
Remember, as of this year Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters (CSALs) will not be mailed to employers but posted online within the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Library.
The first round of CSALs are expected to be posted in February. Set a reminder to check the FOIA website listing weekly to ensure your organization (if listed) takes full advantage of this courtesy advance notice.
More to Come
Affirmity experts keep a close watch on developments with OFCCP and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission so we can share insights with our clients and provide relevant and timely guidance related to affirmative action planning, reporting, and audit support.