The challenges of record keeping for compliance
Federal Contractors are doing more than ever when it comes to affirmative action compliance. Since the new regulations regarding Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities went into effect in March, 2014, the contractor community has been buzzing with questions on how to best implement the record keeping changes.
The two new pieces of legislation contractors are tasked with implementing are:
• The contractor must document and annually update several quantitative comparisons for the number of covered veterans and people with disabilities who apply for jobs and the corresponding amount that are hired. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The data must be maintained for three years and be used to spot trends.
• The contractor shall undertake appropriate outreach and positive recruitment activities that are reasonably designed to effectively recruit qualified protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.
For many contractors, the task of tracking the new categories on the applicant flow log and current workforce data is a formality. It simply involves adjusting the forms you currently keep and documenting the information in some type of database for reporting purposes. However, the most worrisome aspect for many contractors is properly measuring the program’s effectiveness. Developing an effective outreach strategy has always been an arduous task. Outreach agencies are consistently unpredictable and rely heavily on local market resources. For a company whose HR function is centrally located, the process is almost impossible to achieve. In addition, effective outreach has always been a difficult task to measure. Most companies rely on their third-party vendors to send out postings to various agencies covering all of the protected classes. Let’s not forget, contractors still have the obligation to solicit minority and female candidates. These third-party vendors may use up to 100 different outreach agencies. How do they even begin to track effectiveness?
In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the OFCCP requested that contractors measure the effectiveness of the outreach agency by identifying which candidate came from a particular outreach agency. Fortunately, the feedback was so strongly against this practice, the current regulations were re-written to omit it.
So, the question remains, how do contractors know if a particular agency is working? The answer is that you don’t. The only way to accurately measure effectiveness is to periodically study the candidates applying to determine whether these protected individuals are making it through the process and consequently, being hired. Contractors are advised to audit their program throughout their plan year.
Unfortunately, it remains to be seen how the OFCCP will audit this information as the regulations are still in their infancy. As with every new regulation, time will heal all wounds.
Compliance will become commonplace. Let’s hope that in the not so distant future, the unemployment of Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities will be significantly lowered, and this regulation will have achieved its goal.