It’s official. Today, the same week we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, the Federal Register published two final rules that represent a historic step forward for veterans and for people with disabilities.
The Department of Labor has been working for more than three years to update and strengthen our regulations under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. And now that process is complete, and the critical process of implementation is beginning.
In order to make it easier and cost efficient for federal contractors updating their systems, the effective date for both rules is the same: March 24, 2014, which is 180 days from the date the rules were published. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has big plans to help ensure that contractors have everything they need to be successful by that date.
In fact, we’ve already started. We have held four overview webinars – two on each rule – and we plan to do more webinars over the coming months. We will be rolling out more technical assistance materials, too. You can find audio recordings from these webinars and other helpful background materials on OFCCP’s website at www.dol.gov/ofccp/VEVRAARule and www.dol.gov/ofccp/503Rule. We will be updating those pages regularly with new information. And for that, we need your help.
Over the next few months, as my OFCCP colleagues and I engage with the public, we want to hear from you: What do you need clarified about the new regulations? What do you need assistance with as you begin implementation? What concerns do you have? How can we help you identify best practices and recruitment resources?
We will have answers, too. For example, last week we answered questions on Twitter under the #AccessJobs hashtag, and we’re currently reviewing some of the questions we didn’t have time to answer in order to see what follow-up information we might need to provide. Some of those issues will be addressed tomorrow during the Labor Department-Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Twitter chat on the Rehabilitation Act’s anniversary (using the hashtag #RehabAct). We also hope you will continue to contact us at OFCCP-Public@dol.gov with your questions and feedback.
Ultimately, the success of these new rules depends on strong communication and partnership between OFCCP and all our stakeholders. We are ready to take your questions, provide tools and training, and do whatever it takes to facilitate that success for contractors and workers. So go ahead, ask me anything.
Debra Carr is the director of the Policy Division of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.