New Fed Rules To Boost Hiring Of Veterans, Disabled Workers

The rules could make it easier for vets and disabled workers to find work.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Veterans and disabled workers who often struggle to find work could have an easier time landing a job under new federal regulations.

The rules, announced Tuesday by the Labor Department, will require most government contractors to set a goal of having disabled workers make up at least 7 percent of their employees. The benchmark for veterans would be 8 percent, a rate that could change from year to year depending on the overall number of former military members in the workforce.
The new requirements could have a major impact on hiring since federal contractors and subcontractors account for about 16 million workers -- more than 20 percent of the nation's workforce. But some business groups have threatened legal action, complaining that the rules conflict with federal laws that discourage employers from asking about a job applicant's disability status.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, above, called the new policy a "win-win" that will benefit workers "who belong in the economic mainstream and deserve a chance to work and opportunity to succeed." He said it also would benefit employers by increasing their access to a diverse pool of new workers.

"To create opportunity, we need to strengthen our civil rights laws and make sure they have the intended effect," Perez told reporters in a conference call announcing the rules.

The unemployment rate for disabled workers is a staggering 14.7 percent, nearly twice the rate of 7.4 percent for the general population. The jobless rate for all veterans is 7.3 percent, but for veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars it's 9.9 percent, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rules are expected to affect about 171,000 companies doing business with the federal government, said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Generally, the rules affect those contractors with at least 50 employees and $50,000 in government contracts.

Shiu estimated as many as 585,000 disabled workers more than 200,000 veterans could get new jobs if all the companies meet the hiring goals within the first year of compliance.

Labor officials say the new benchmarks are only goals and not specific hiring quotas. But companies that can't provide documents showing they tried to meet the goal could risk having their federal contracts revoked.

If a company can't immediately meet the new goals, it is required to examine recruitment or outreach practices to decide how to improve. No fine, penalty or sanction would be imposed solely for failing to meet the goal, Shiu said.

The new metrics for the disabled and veterans are similar to those contractors have long used for women and minorities. They will take effect six months from now to give contractors enough time to process them. Under the rules, companies must keep detailed records of recruitment and hiring efforts taken to meet the new goals.

Daniel Yager, president of the HR Policy Association, which represents more than 350 large U.S. corporations, suggested his group may challenge the disability rules in court.

"Simply mandating a numerical 'goal' for all jobs in all contractors' workplaces, and then requiring employers to invade the privacy of applicants and employees with questions about their physical and mental condition, destroys everything companies have done to integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce in a sensitive, discreet manner," Yager said.

Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, praised the Obama administration for approving the new rules. She predicted that employers would not have a hard time meeting the new benchmarks for disabled workers.

"There are many organizations in the disability field who stand prepared to help companies meet these goals," Glazer said.

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Viet Nam veterans were supposed to have veteran's preference from companies that had government contracts way back in the 1970s. The catch is that there were no penalties assessed if a company ignored the rules. Most of the time they did. No teeth -- no law. It just all a good publicity stunt.

August 30 2013 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What a weak reply it invades privacy. So ur a vet or disabled and you can get a job because of this so you hid it from employer?

August 30 2013 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

no problem-just fire the people already working to make way for the "mandated" hirees. sounds fair.

August 30 2013 at 12:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to supermolar's comment
Joe Schmo

Well at least you have to fire those that have been there the longest so you can hire new people to do the same job at 1/4 the wages.

December 27 2013 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Since there are no penalties associated with ignoring the percentages; then the regulations are just media fluff.
Sort of like the 5 points that Vterans get on government exams.
Basically useless gimmicks so they can say they actually help veterans get jobs.

August 30 2013 at 12:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to YourFtr's comment

read article again to see ur wrong.

August 30 2013 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Labor officials say the new benchmarks are only goals and not specific hiring quotas. But companies that can't provide documents showing they tried to meet the goal could risk having their federal contracts revoked."

So much for your reading skills.

August 30 2013 at 1:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I remember when the Disabled America act was signed into law. The company had a staff meeting to explain it's ramifications to us. We were all dumb founded when we left. We worked in a heavy machine repair facility. The machines weighed in at over 200 tons, parts were heavy and bulky. The company had to spend millions up grading the facility to be handicap friendly. Everything from bathrooms and locker rooms to access to work on equipment that there was no way a handicap person could work on even with access. They had to put in elevators where we had stairs, extra cranes that were in the way. When I retired in 2008 we still hadn't had a single handicap person even apply for a job. But if they had we were ready.

August 30 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm a veteran but was told by a job recruiter I "wasn't the right kind". Two honorable discharges from two different branches isn't "the right kind"? Maybe I shouldn't have ducked in Saudi.

August 30 2013 at 12:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Paul's comment

We never went to war in Saudi

August 30 2013 at 12:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

For every new rule they make, someone else will come up with a way to circumvent it, and nothing changes. Also, if the Labor Department wants to make these rules, they themselves shoud have to abide by it. They may think they have stamped out the Good Ole Boy System-they haven't. I'm a veteran, disabled, and a government worker well qualified in my field. I am stuck at the bottom of the pay scale, and "they" always have a good reason to keep me right where I am.

August 30 2013 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its about time! Human resources people seem to filter out Veterans AND particularly disabled applicants. I feel that the disabled Veteran would, often times, do a superior job in spite of their disability. The importance of being self sufficient is a higher priority to The disabled Veteran ! DON'T drag politics into this important issue, republicans as well as democrat politicians are the best money can buy !

August 30 2013 at 11:48 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Only works IF there are jobs opening up - unless you expect companies to fire present workers to hire new ones, which they just might do IF there is an incenive (tax, fed pay part of wage for a time, etc.) for the company.

August 30 2013 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

It's good that the Feds are stepping up for veterans and the disabled. Now, how about making corporations hire FULL TIME, instead of having all employees working PART TIME in order to avoid providing any employment benefits! Seems like the GOP was behind this one....something that Romney would do as a Corporate Executive.

August 30 2013 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jabaileydc's comment

Romeny dismantled companies, he did not provide employment.

August 30 2013 at 12:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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