OFCCP’s Commitment to Disability Inclusion in the Workplace
OFCCP’s Director Craig Leen released a statement November 13th regarding disability inclusion in the workplace. OFCCP is increasing emphasis on compliance with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act this year. The Rehabilitation Act, the first disability civil rights law in the U.S. requires federal contractors and subcontractors to treat all qualified job applicants and employees equally and fairly, regardless of disability. The law also requires contractors to take proactive steps in recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing qualified individuals with disabilities.
Some reasons for OFCCP’s focus on Section 503 enforcement are due to challenges individuals with disabilities currently face in obtaining and keeping employment. These include the following:
- Individuals with disabilities have a significantly lower labor participation rate even though their unemployment rate is at the lowest level ever recorded.
- Individuals with disabilities unemployment rate is persistently higher than the overall unemployment rate which is at a 50-year low.
- Individuals with disabilities frequently receive lower pay and face difficulties receiving reasonable accommodations to perform their jobs effectively.
Director Leen announced OFCCP will commence Section 503 Focused Reviews and that he is intent on making them a lasting priority of the agency. OFCCP has launched a Section 503 Focused Review landing page to assist contractors with the review process. The page will provide contractors with:
- Best practices
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- Sample disability and inclusion programs
- Sample voluntary self-identification form
OFCCP plans to expand these resources in the coming months by highlighting members of the contracting community who excel in meeting their Section 503 obligations and “exemplify the spirit of disability inclusion.”