As members of the military services return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the federal government has shown a great interest in ensuring that these individuals have opportunities to find employment in the private sector. Various federal agencies, including the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), have new initiatives that are meant to aide veterans in finding employment. While some agencies are providing funding or making direct connections between employers and veterans’ groups, OFCCP is seeking to help veterans find work through aggressive enforcement of the federal affirmative action regulations regarding veterans.
Until recently, OFCCP focused almost exclusively on enforcing its regulations regarding minorities and females. However, in the last two years, the two other groups protected under OFCCP’s regulations, veterans and persons with disabilities, have received significant attention from OFCCP. This new emphasis culminated during 2011 in proposed revisions to the regulations regarding veterans and proposed revisions to the regulations regarding persons with disabilities.
Listing with the State Employment Service
While neither set of proposed regulatory changes has been issued in final form as of January 2012, during affirmative action compliance reviews OFCCP has been asking for more data and more documentation of actions taken on behalf of veterans and persons with disabilities. One critical action that federal contractors and subcontractors must take is to list open positions with the local state employment service (SES) office. This is an absolute requirement under the veterans regulations. The listing with the SES office must occur at least concurrently with the use of other recruitment sources. During a compliance review, OFCCP is now routinely asking for documentation both from the SES offices AND from the company. In fact, in recent reviews, OFCCP has at times asked for screen shots showing that positions transmitted to an SES office were listed on an SES website.
The only types of positions that are exempt from this listing with the SES office are as follows:
- Executive and senior management positions (as defined in the federal regulations)
- Positions lasting three days or less
- Positions that will be filled from within the company
Companies have long assumed that highly-specialized positions and positions recruited through confidential searches are exempt from this listing requirement. This is not accurate. The ONLY clear exceptions to the listing requirement are noted above.
Contacts to Organizations Serving Veterans
OFCCP has also taken the position that the listing with the SES office is necessary but not sufficient to demonstrate a company’s interest in recruiting veterans. OFCCP expects that companies are contacting other organizations that work directly with veterans seeking employment, and that companies are building direct relationships with these organizations. During recent compliance reviews, OFCCP has not been satisfied when all a company has done is post positions on one or two websites that serve veterans.
OFCCP also expects that companies have documentation of the efforts made to recruit veterans. This would include copies of e-mails sent to organizations that work with veterans, records of conversations with these organizations, and screen shots or other proof that positions were actually posted on websites serving veterans.
Under OFCCP’s proposed changes to the regulations regarding veterans, federal contractors and subcontractors would be required to enter into linkage agreements with organizations serving veterans seeking employment. While employers are not currently required to enter into these linkage agreements, the proposed regulations provide examples of organizations that companies can use for recruiting purposes. Among these organizations are the following:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
- The Department of Defense Transition Assistance program
- Organizations that are part of the National Resource Directory (www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov)
The National Resource Directory includes listings for organizations such as the AMVETS Career Center, Helmets to Hard Hats, Military.com, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Actions to Take
Federal contractors and subcontractors would be well-served by taking specific actions to recruit and employ veterans. At a minimum, companies should do the following:
- Contact the state employment service when there are openings
- Develop relationships with organizations serving veterans seeking employment
- Document actions taken to recruit veterans
- Analyze data to determine whether veterans are actually being hired
OFCCP has recently taken the position that good faith efforts are not sufficient. The head of the agency has stated that contractor efforts must be measured by results. This increases the importance of finding effective ways to recruit and employ veterans.
Did You Know…that only certain types of veterans are covered by OFCCP’s affirmative action regulations? The four classes of veterans covered are disabled veterans, veterans who are within three years of leaving military service, armed forces service medal veterans, and active wartime/campaign badge veterans.
For more information on OFCCP’s affirmative action regulations concerning veterans, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.