Veteran Hiring Benchmark Decreased to 5.4%
OFCCP released the national annual veteran hiring benchmark effective March 31, 2023, which measures the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force. Federal contractors are required to compare their percentage of hires who are protected veterans in each establishment on a facility-wide basis to the annual veteran hiring benchmark to measure the effectiveness of outreach and recruitment of veterans for employment. The national annual veteran hiring benchmark was decreased from 5.5% to 5.4% as of March 31, 2023. If a federal contractor has elected to calculate an individualized hiring benchmark using state-level availability of veterans, OFCCP has also updated state-level availability data.
The Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) requires covered prime contractors and subcontractors (contractors) to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans. OFCCP regulations require contractors to collect data annually regarding 1) the number of protected veteran applicants; 2) the total number of job openings and jobs filled; 3) the total number of applicants for all jobs; 4) the total number of protected veteran applicants hired; and 5) the total number of applicants hired.
As OFCCP states in FAQs, the purpose of the hiring benchmark is to provide “a yardstick against which contractors can measure the success of their efforts to recruit and employ qualified protected veterans.” Unlike availability data for women and minorities, which contractors must calculate for the purpose of AAPs to identify placement goals, the veteran hiring benchmark includes all veterans, not just those protected by VEVRAA. Due to the absence of data specific to the narrower category of protected veterans, the hiring benchmark cannot be used to require federal contractors to establish placement goals, and the failure to meet the benchmark does not result in an enforcement action. During a compliance evaluation, however, OFCCP will request documentation of the hiring benchmark used by the contractor, the data collected regarding protected veteran applicants and hires, the effectiveness of its outreach efforts to recruit and hire protected veterans, and alternative outreach and recruitment methods if previous efforts were not effective.
For contractors pursuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) performance goals, veterans represent a demographic group that has experienced difficulty finding employment despite their training and valuable experience. Inclusion of veterans in DEI goals recognizes and addresses the social inequities that veterans face. When requesting self-identification of veteran status, federal contractors must invite applicants and employees to self-identify so that self-identification is voluntary. In addition, the terminology incorporated in the invitation must comply with OFCCP regulations. Veteran status and other protected demographic information are considered by OFCCP as confidential information. OFCCP regulations require contractors to maintain the confidentiality of any information disclosed during the self-identification process.
OFCCP Publishes New CC-305 Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form
On April 25, 2023, the Office of Management and Budget approved OFCCP’s revised Voluntary Self-identification of Disability form (CC-305) provided by federal contractors to employees and applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability. The previous CC-305 form expires on May 31, 2023, but can be used between May 31, 2023, and July 25, 2023. Federal contractors must begin using the new form by no later than July 25, 2023.
As in the previous form, with slight changes to the language, form CC-305 continues to inform applicants that the law requires federal contractors to provide equal employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities and to measure their progress toward achieving disability goals for incumbents. Employees are informed that completion of the form is voluntary, and their responses will remain confidential.
The significant changes in the new form add new conditions that are considered a disability or provide clarifying language to disabilities listed in the previous version of the form. As in the previous CC-305 form, the list of disabilities is non-exhaustive. The new or revised itemized conditions are:
- Alcohol or other substance use disorder (not currently using drugs illegally);
- Cancer remains a disability with the clarification of “past or present cancer;”
- Disfigurement, for example, disfigurement caused by burns, wounds, accidents, or congenital disorders;
- The addition of developmental disabilities to the category of intellectual disabilities;
- Mental health conditions for example depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD. This category of disabilities consolidates two categories of disabilities in the previous form: depression or anxiety and psychiatric conditions.
- Mobility impairment, benefiting from the use of a wheelchair, scooter, walker, leg braces, and/or other supports.
- Neurodivergence, for example, attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, other learning disabilities;
- Pulmonary respiratory conditions, for example, tuberculosis, asthma, emphysema;
- Short stature (dwarfism)
- Traumatic brain injury.
As in the past, federal contractors are not permitted to make substantive changes to form CC-305. Additional information regarding federal contractors’ obligation to invite applicants to self-identify as an individual with a disability can be found in the OFCCP Section 503 FAQs.