Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits employment discrimination against applicants and employees because of physical or mental disabilities and requires federal contractors and subcontractors with federal contracts or subcontracts in excess of $15,000 to take affirmative action to ensure that persons are treated without regard to disability. As part of their affirmative action efforts, contractors are required to invite applicants, new hires, and employees to voluntarily self-identify their disability status using Form CC-305.
Form CC-305 has long been the subject of criticism from contractors, as well as from their applicants and employees, and has historically resulted in very low response rates. In an effort to improve disability self-identification response rates by making the invitation form more user friendly, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has proposed changes to the form in an October 3, 2019 notice in the Federal Register. The proposed changes include the following:
- Deleting the lengthy reasonable accommodation footnote, which applicants and employees found confusing and some misunderstood as a request for an accommodation
- Expanding, updating, and alphabetizing the sample list of disabilities to now also include:
- autoimmune disorders (for example, lupus, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis);
- low vision;
- cardiovascular or heart disease;
- hard of hearing benefiting from hearing aid(s);
- gastrointestinal disorders (for example, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease);
- nervous system conditions (for example, migraine headaches and Parkinson's disease); and
- Revising the Yes option to "Yes, I have a disability, or have a history/record of having a disability"
- Expanding the "Why are you being asked to complete this form?" section to explain contractors' goal of having 7 percent of each job group within their workforces comprised of those with disabilities
- Moving the applicant/employee's name and completion date lines to the top of the form
- Providing a link to OFCCP's website for those who would like additional information
- Reducing the length of the form to one page
OFCCP seeks comments on its proposed revisions and is particularly interested in the following types of comments:
- Those evaluating the proposed revisions, including specific suggestions for updating the form and for matching applicants with their forms for affirmative action purposes using a method other than name
- Those evaluating whether the collection of information via the invitation is necessary, including whether the information has practical utility
Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments electronically. However, comments may also be submitted by mail or hand-delivered. Reference OMB Control Number 1250-0005 in all comments.
The deadline for submitting comments is December 2, 2019. Please note that all comments become a matter of public record and will be posted on the www.regulations.gov/ website, as well as summarized and/or included in OFCCP's request for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of the revised form.
Current Form CC-305 is set to expire January 31, 2020. If a revised form is not approved before then, the expiration date will be automatically extended until OMB completes the approval process.
This year marks the five-year anniversary of the 2014 revisions to the Section 503 regulations requiring contractors to invite their applicants, new hires, and employees to voluntarily self-identify their disability status every five years. For those contractors who surveyed their workforces in 2014, it is now time to conduct another survey.