Posts Tagged ‘AAP’

Affirmative Action – Revised Audit Scheduling Letter for 2014

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares information on affirmative action plans from the OFCCP. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

On September 30, 2014, the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released an updated audit Scheduling Letter. The OFCCP indicated they would begin issuing a new audit scheduling letter on October 15, 2014 for contractor audits.  Outlined below are the significant changes from the previous scheduling letter and itemized listing and the newly approved one.

  • The Itemized listing requires companies to submit 22 items versus the 11 previously required.
  • Employment Activity data (applicants, hires, promotions, terminations) must be submitted including race subgroups not just minority totals. Information on applicants with “unknown” race and gender must also be included.
  • Compensation data must be submitted at the employee level and not aggregated as previously required. Data for all employees includes: race, gender, hire date, job title, EEO-1 category, job group, hours worked, base pay or rate plus additional compensation such as bonuses, commissions, merit pay, etc. Compensation date should be submitted electronically.
  • Copies of reasonable accommodation policies, requests and resolutions.

 

The revised scheduling letter and itemized listing also incorporates new items related to the revised regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). This newly requested information includes:

  • Evaluation results of effectiveness of outreach and recruitment efforts for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.
  • Documentation of actions taken to comply with audit and reporting system requirements.
  • Submittal of data collected regarding number of applicants, applicants who identified as veterans or individuals with disabilities, number of hires and those that identified as veterans or disabled and job openings and jobs filled.
  • Documentation on hiring benchmarks for veterans and analysis on utilization goals for individuals with disabilities. Results of most recent assessments on personnel processes, including date performed, actions taken and date of next scheduled assessment.
  • Recent assessments of physical and mental qualifications, including date performed, actions taken and date of next scheduled assessment.

Contractors should review the revised Scheduling Letter as well as their affirmative action program and data to ensure they are properly capturing and maintaining requested information. Contractors only have 30 days from receipt of the letter to gather and submit the requested information.

For more information on affirmative action and the recent changes within it, please be sure to sign up for our free webinar Affirmative Action 101: The Basics on December 2, 2014.

For helpful tips and information on preparing your next affirmative action plan, please sign up for our next affirmative action class AAP: What it Takes To Prepare a Compliant Affirmative Action Plan on December, 12, 2014.

OFCCP Announces Major Changes for Government Contractors

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares the latest updates from the OFCCP. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh blogThe last couple of months have been busy for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). They have announced several changes that will affect the requirements and practices of federal contractors and subcontractors. What are the changes and how do they affect you?

The first change was the release of the revised Federal Contract Compliance Manual (FCCM). This is the guide that compliance officers at OFCCP use during audits of contractors. These revisions have been in the works for some time now. The FCCM does not contain new rules or requirements but rather provides guidance to auditors on how to conduct offsite and onsite audits. The FCCM may serve as a helpful document for contractors to review in order to understand the policies and practices of the OFCCP during audits. This revised manual is intended to standardize the investigations between regions, offices and even compliance officers. If you’d like to see the revised manual, visit http://j.mp/fc-cm.

The OFCCP also announced on August 27, final rules for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). The initial proposed rules were issued about two years ago and the OFCCP had been saying that the final rules would happen soon. These final rules will require federal contractors to make significant changes to current practices and analysis. These rules were published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2013 and become effective 180 days after the publish date.

What this means to companies with Affirmative Action Plans is that AAPs in place prior to March 24, 2014 can be developed using the old (current) rules. AAPs developed after March 24, 2014 will need to incorporate the new requirements in the plans. Below are some of the major changes affecting government contractors. CAI will provide more information and training on these new requirements as well as provide suggestions on how organizations can implement necessary changes.

Changes to VEVRAA

  • Rescission of 41 CFR Part 60-250: The Final Rule rescinds the outdated 41 CFR Part 60-250 in its entirety. However, veterans that were formerly protected only under Part 60-250 will still be protected from discrimination under the revised 41 CFR Part 60-300.
  • Hiring benchmarks: The Final Rule requires that contractors establish annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans. Contractors must use one of two methods to establish their benchmarks. Contractors may choose to establish a benchmark equal to the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force (currently eight percent), which will be published and updated annually by OFCCP. Alternatively, contractors may establish their own benchmarks using certain data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service/Employment and Training Administration (VETS/ETA) that will also be published by OFCCP, as well other factors that reflect the contractor’s unique hiring circumstances. The data will be posted in the Benchmark Database (coming soon).
  • Data collection: The Final Rule requires that contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of veterans who apply for jobs and the number of veterans they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The data must be maintained for three years to be used to spot trends.
  • Invitation to self-identify: The Final Rule requires that contractors invite applicants to self-identify as protected veterans at both the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process. The Final Rule includes sample invitations to self-identify that contractors may use.
  • Incorporation of the EO clause: The Final Rule requires that specific language be used when incorporating the equal opportunity clause into a subcontract by reference. The mandated language, though brief, will alert subcontractors to their responsibilities as Federal contractors.
  • Job listings: The Final Rule clarifies that when listing their job openings, contractors must provide job opening information to the state or local job service in the format required, so that the job service can make the jobs available to veteran job seekers.
  • Records access: The Final Rule clarifies that contractors must allow OFCCP to review documents related to a compliance check or focused review, either onsite or offsite, at OFCCP’s option. In addition, the Final Rule requires contractors, upon request, to inform OFCCP of all formats in which it maintains its records and provide them to OFCCP in whichever of those formats OFCCP requests.

Changes to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act

  • Utilization goal: The Final Rule establishes a nationwide seven percent utilization goal for qualified Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs). Contractors will apply the goal to each of their job groups, or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees. Contractors must conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems.
  • Data collection: The Final Rule requires that contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of IWDs who apply for jobs and the number of IWDs they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The data must be maintained for three years to be used to spot trends.
  • Invitation to self-identify: The Final Rule requires that contractors invite applicants to self-identify as IWDs at both the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process, using language prescribed by OFCCP. The Final Rule also requires that contractors invite their employees to self-identify as IWDs every five years, using the prescribed language. This language will be posted on the OFCCP website (coming soon).
  • Incorporation of the EO clause: The Final Rule requires that specific language be used when incorporating the equal opportunity clause into a subcontract by reference. The mandated language, though brief, will alert subcontractors to their responsibilities as Federal contractors.
  • Records access: The Final Rule clarifies that contractors must allow OFCCP to review documents related to a compliance check or focused review, either onsite or offsite, at OFCCP’s option. In addition, the Final Rule requires contractors, upon request, to inform OFCCP of all formats in which it maintains its records and provide them to OFCCP in whichever of those formats OFCCP requests.
  • ADAAA: The Final Rule implements changes necessitated by the passage of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 by revising the definition of “disability” and certain nondiscrimination provisions of the implementing regulations.

Please feel free to contact me directly with questions at kaleigh.ferraro@capital.org or 919‑713‑5241.

OFCCP Releases New Compensation Directive for Government Contractors

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares the latest updates from the OFCCP. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh blogEffective February 28, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) officially rescinded their previous guidelines on compensation. This rescission comes as no surprise since they had published in January 2011 a Notice of Proposed Rescission. The OFCCP stated the previous guidelines were too limiting and “constrained OFCCP’s ability to investigate pay discrimination to the full extent permitted by law.” These previous guidelines also conflicted with other government agencies’ investigated pay discrepancies.

The OFCCP replaced the rescinded guidelines with Directive 307, which is supposed to provide contractors clear insight into how the OFCCP will conduct compensation reviews during audits. However, this “clear guidance” doesn’t really live up to this billing. What it actually does is list multiple protocols and factors the OFCCP may use during a compensation review. The OFCCP makes it clear they may use any number of these methodologies during audits and they will be determined on a case-by-case basis. This of course, gives the OFCCP a great deal of flexibility during investigations and makes it extremely difficult for contractors to determine if they are “compliant” based on the OFCCP’s methods.

The consequence of this new Directive is that it affects contractors’ compensation policies/procedures and data at both the macro and micro levels. Employers must be able to address how their practices influence compensation, as well as prepare for specific individual analysis. The changes to the compensation review procedures have the potential to cause companies additional angst during audits.

The following is a high level overview of some of the changes and the issues they may cause employers:

  • There are eight possible “steps” to be taken when conducting the compensation portion of an OFCCP audit and potentially additional consideration factors within the steps.
    • It is unclear which “step” the OFCCP will actually use during an investigation and/or the progression through any and all of these steps. The OFCCP also may change direction at any point during their review.
  • The OFCCP has indicated that several of their analyses will be conducted by broad groupings of employees and not just at the position title level.
    • With wide groupings such as pay grades, AAP job groups or pay analysis groupings being used for analysis, there is a greater opportunity for pay discrepancies to be identified during the OFCCP’s investigation.
  • Any documentation regarding company policies or practices that may be related to compensation may be called into question during the OFCCP’s review. Examples include but are not limited to performance systems, commission, overtime hours, training, etc.
    • This more detailed review of company practices will likely cause OFCCP to uncover issues with inconsistent pay practices as well as other employment policies.
  • Regardless of findings and whether or not an issue is identified during previous “steps” or reviews, the OFCCP has indicated they may continue their investigation into contractors’ compensation.
    • This seems to indicate that OFCCP audits will be comprehensive and involve many steps and reviews and will likely be a long and drawn-out (and potentially expensive) process.

The Directive seems to serve as an indication that the compensation reviews conducted by the OFCCP will cause many challenges among the contractor community, especially initially. To review Directive 307 in its entirety, visit http://j.mp/pd-gc.

If you would like to discuss these new guidelines in detail and the potential impact on your organization, please contact me directly at 919‑713‑5241 or kaleigh.ferraro@capital.org. CAI provides AAP plan preparation, OFCCP audit assistance, onsite training and webinars for hundreds of companies each year. We are happy to share our expertise with you!

 

CAI’s Experts Take the Confusion out of Affirmative Action Planning

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Madison Upton (left), Kaleigh Ferraro (right)

In October CAI’s Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) Experts, Kaleigh Ferraro and Madison Upton, hosted a free webinar to educate current and future government contractors on the basics of creating a compliant AAP. The team compiled a list of questions most frequently asked by organizations that are required to have a written AAP. If your company has 50 or more employees and holds a federal government contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more, read the answers below to make sure your organization stays compliant.

 

AAP Frequently Asked Questions

1.     When do we have to turn in our AAP?

Contractors and subcontractors are required to develop AAPs annually. AAPs are not submitted unless your company is selected for an audit.

 

2.     Are there specific qualifications for employees that must be included in our AAP?

All full-time and part-time, regular employees must be included in AAP reports. Employees on short-term leave or military leave should be included as well. Temporary employees, such as co-ops and interns, are not typically included in AAPs.

 

3.     How long do we need to keep our AAPs?

Contractors need to keep their current AAP and their AAP from the previous year.  All others may be discarded. However, if your organization is under audit, you must maintain all existing AAPs and accompanying reports until the audit’s conclusion. For example, if you are audited, and it takes three years from today to close the investigation, you must maintain your AAPs from 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as pertinent employment records.

 

4.     What if employees or applicants choose to not disclose their race, ethnicity, gender, disability status or veteran status?

Government contractors and subcontractors are required to develop reports that use race and gender employee information. These organizations must solicit race and gender information from applicants and employees, but individuals may choose to not disclose this information, as it is voluntary to self identify.

Organizations are allowed to visually identify applicants and employees who do not self identify themselves so they can be included in AAP reports and/or EEO-1 reports. The OFCCP suggests that members of HR or managers make the visual identifications.

Contractors are not obligated to guess the race, ethnicity or gender of people who apply online or through resume and decline to self identify. If the applicant is interviewed, then a contractor may visually identify the candidate in person.

 

5.     How does the OFCCP choose companies to audit?

The OFCCP maintains a listing of federal contractors and uses the Federal Contractor Scheduling System (FCSS) and “administratively neutral selection criteria” to choose organizations that will be audited. Items that are considered by the FCSS may include EEO-1 reports, establishment size, random sampling of contractors and mathematical models that compare workforce profiles with other establishments in the same industry and labor market.

The OFCCP typically sends out audit scheduling letters twice a year.  The OFCCP regional offices notify approximately 2,500 establishments in early October, and a second list of approximately 5,000 establishments in early March. Organizations that are not in the FCSS can be selected for audits as well.  These organizations may include corporate offices, approved functional AAPs, or companies with credible reports of alleged violations of laws and regulations. If an organization is selected for an audit, it will not be selected again for 24 months.

 

6.     How should we respond to an audit letter?

When the OFFCP mails a scheduling letter to a contractor or subcontractor, the organization has 30 days to respond to the letter. The scheduling letter will request information, such as the written AAPs, compensation data and personnel activities, which include hires, applicants, promotions and terminations.

 

7.     What types of penalties can the OFCCP assess during an audit?

The OFCCP can collect compensatory and punitive damages, which are often the result of back pay for candidates who are not selected, or unexplained salary differences between employees. Organizations may also agree to conciliation agreements that may result in additional submitted reports.

 

8.     We are a subsidiary of a parent company.  We do not have any contracts, but our parent company does.  Are we a contractor and therefore subject to AAP regulations?

The OFCCP uses the NLRB test of common ownership to determine if a subsidiary is covered. If your organization fits one of the characteristics below, you are required to complete an AAP.

  • Interrelation of operations – there are common services provided between companies, such as insurance, retirement policies, federal tax ids, etc.
  • Centralized control of labor relations – all locations are subject to identical or similar personnel policies, which are determined by the corporate office. These policies include decisions to hire, promote, terminate, etc. All decisions must be approved by corporate headquarters.
  • Common management – the multiple locations share officers, boards of directors, presidents, etc. Subsidiary facilities are not independent in functions concerning operations, pay, benefits, etc.
  • Common ownership or financial control – the parent company and subsidiaries are owned by the same organization.

 

9.     Are we required to submit all of our organization’s job openings with the state job service?

Yes, contractors who hold contracts of $100,000 or more must list all job openings with the state job service.  North Carolina requires all open positions to be listed with the NC Employment Security Commission, but there are three exceptions to this regulation:

  • Positions soliciting executives and senior management candidates
  • Positions that will be filled internally
  • Positions that will last fewer than 3 days

 

10.   We post our open positions on internet jobs boards, so we receive a lot of interested candidates. Do we have to regard everyone who applies as an applicant for consideration in our analysis?

No, the OFCCP issued an Internet Applicant Rule to address the issue of recruiting through online sources.  In order to be an internet applicant, a candidate must satisfy the following four criteria:

  • Individual submits interest in employment through internet or other electronic data technology
  • The contractor considers the individual for employment
  • The individual possesses the basic qualifications for the position
  • The individual does not withdraw himself or herself from consideration

 

For additional answers to your AAP questions, please contact one of CAI’s AAP experts: Kaleigh Ferraro at Kaleigh.Ferraro@capital.org or Madison Upton at Madison.Upton@capital.org. You can also reach Kaleigh or Madison at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Affirmative Action Planning Basics for Employers

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

If your company has 50 or more employees and holds a federal government contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more, you must prepare a written affirmative action plan (AAP) and update it annually. These plans are audited by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

So if you are considering a government contract or subcontract, or if you are a government contractor or subcontractor, and would like more information on affirmative action requirements, the slide presentation below highlights the details you need to know.  If you would like additional information please contact CAI’s AAP team members Kaleigh Ferraro or Madison Gray at (919) 878-9222.