Letter from OFCCP Director on Proposed Disability Regs

U.S. Department of LaborDecember 9, 2011

Dear Friends:

Today we made history at the Department of Labor. This morning, OFCCP proposed a new rule to strengthen the affirmative action obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors to improve job opportunities for people with disabilities.

Our proposed rule would revise and update Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, giving millions of Americans with disabilities a better and fairer shot at competing for jobs. The proposal also aims to give businesses greater clarity on what is expected of them, leveling the playing field so that employers who play by the rules don’t have to compete at a disadvantage against those who shirk their legal responsibilities.

The rule we are proposing is historic: businesses with at least 50 employees and $50,000 or more in government contracts would be required to set a hiring goal of 7 percent for workers with disabilities.

That’s never been done before.

I believe that what gets measured gets done. When four out of every five working-age individuals with a disability are outside the labor force, we have serious work to do. This proposed rule is a concrete step we can take to help close that gap, to ensure that discouraged workers in the disability community have a reason to believe they too can have meaningful opportunities to work.

The concept of setting a goal is not new. A goal is yardstick for employers to assess how they’re doing and a tool to help us better evaluate their efforts. Our proposal would require employers to take specific actions with respect to recruitment, training, record-keeping and the dissemination of policies – actions similar to those which have long been required to promote equal opportunity in the workplace for women and minorities.

I invite you to read our proposal and submit comments on how we can make it better. Throughout this rulemaking process, we have sought as much input as possible from workers, employers, advocates, experts, scholars and the public at-large. Last year, we published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – the government equivalent of a national brainstorming session – to get ideas on what this rule should look like. The input we received on the ANPRM and in stakeholder and town hall meetings throughout the country helped shape the rule we put before you now.

Our proposed rule is open for public comment from now until February 7, 2012. My staff and I will read, review and consider every comment we receive. That is part of the public trust we hold at the Department of Labor.

Now we need you to please look over our proposal and give us your honest and constructive feedback. Go to http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/503 to read and comment on the rule. There, you will also find a short summary of the proposed rule, a fact sheet you can print and share, answers to frequently asked questions and other useful materials.

Today we made history. Now we ask you to help us make possibility.

Many thanks,

Patricia A. Shiu

Director

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
Letter from Director Patricia A. Shiu

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