Today is the deadline for compliance with the first two steps of the new OFCCP regulations – which we discussed in our Steps One and Two blog post here.  We hope you are ready!  (You might want to call us if you are not.)

Assuming you are now in compliance with the first two steps, it is time to continue with Step Five.  This step must be implemented by the next time you develop an affirmative action plan after today.  However, we recommend implementing this step now, as explained below.

Step 5.  Take concrete steps to engage in outreach and recruitment activities and assess those activities.

While contractors have long been encouraged to work with third parties to recruit disabled individuals and veterans to their workforce, the new regulations clearly indicate that some of those efforts are now affirmatively required.  For example, contractors are now required to provide notification of their affirmative action policy to its covered subcontractors.  This was previously only recommended by the OFCCP.

In addition, we anticipate that the OFCCP will be asking for more information related to the specific organizations with whom the contractor has partnered in order to recruit veterans and disabled individuals to its workforce.  The OFCCP recently released a database where contractors can find such organizations.  Also, DirectEmployers, a nonprofit association of employers, is a great resource for providing job posting information to hundreds of organizations and also includes a list of disabled and veteran (as well as minority and female) focused organizations on their website.

So, now is the time to get serious about posting jobs with more than just the local one-stop career center.  Why?  Contractors will now be required to assess in writing each year the adequacy of their affirmative action efforts as well as document the actions taken.  In making the assessment, contractors must consider the percentage of their veteran hires and the percentage of their disabled workforce when compared with their veteran benchmarks and the seven-percent disabled goal.  We anticipate that if the benchmark or goal is not met, then the OFCCP will be asking what steps the contractor has taken to address the failure to meet the benchmark or goal.  In implementing this step, documentation is critical, as the new regulations require contractors to keep records of these outreach and recruitment efforts for three years.

Ultimately, this step is where the rubber meets the road.  Contractors will no longer be able to just say, “Well, we’ve been conducting outreach, but it just hasn’t worked.”  Now, it has to be documented, and doing the same things that failed in a prior year (or years) to help reach the goals set or required will not be enough.  Plus, you can ensure that the OFCCP will be asking for that documentation in your next desk audit, especially if the goals and benchmarks have not been met.  You not only need to have the documentation, you need it to show good faith efforts to achieve your goals.