In August of 2018, OFCCP announced that future scheduling lists for compliance evaluations by the OFCCP would include reviews focused solely on compliance with Section 503, “to ensure that federal contractors fully comply with equal employment opportunity obligations and consider other best practices to increase employment of qualified individuals with disabilities”. In March 2019, when the next and most recent list of contractors scheduled for review was published, 500 of those reviews were Section 503 focused reviews. The agency has indicated that focused reviews will continue and the numbers will increase with future scheduling lists.
A Section 503 Focused Review is scheduled for a contractor's corporate headquarters location and the evaluation will include an on-site visit to that location. During the review, the agency will focus on the employer's outreach for hiring individuals with disabilities (IWD), and an evaluation of the effectiveness of those efforts. Other information that the employer will supply to the agency include:
- The E.O. 11246 Affirmative Action Plan for Minorities and Women
- The Section 503 Affirmative Action Plan for Individuals with Disabilities
- The job group analysis from the AAPs
- Applicant and hiring statistics for individuals with disabilities
- The employment utilization analysis of IWDs in the workforce against the targeted workforce utilization that the OFCCP has set at 7%
OFCCP will also request the submission of policies and documents, including requests for reasonable accommodations, an assessment of personnel processes, and the contractor's physical and mental job qualifications assessment. Key to evaluating a contractors' compliance with the regulation is ensuring that the appropriate records are requested and maintained. Therefore, the agency will look to see if the appropriate self-identification processes are in place for applicants and employees. They will also examine the processes an applicant uses to apply for the job, including the accessibility of the company's website. During the on-site visit, it is expected that OFCCP will request interviews with employees and managers.
To ensure compliance and reduce the risks for an unsuccessful future compliance evaluation, companies should take steps now – and Berkshire is here to help! Our seasoned consultants stand ready to help you and your company prepare for the audit by assisting you with the following action items:
- Making sure all Affirmative Action Plans are prepared in a timely manner
- Educating managers and human resources staff on the requirements of Section 503 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Reviewing the process for soliciting demographic information from applicants and employees
- Confirming accessibility and proper language on websites
- Reviewing data metrics to understand where progress is warranted
- Documenting when personnel processes and physical and mental job requirement assessments were conducted
- Reviewing policies and procedures that impact individuals with disabilities, including reasonable accommodation, leave, and attendance policies
It's a best practice that federal contractors conduct their own self-audit. We can help you do that today. Learn more about Berkshire's audit defense services by filling out this short form here.