IBJNews

Labor rules seek to boost jobs for vets, disabled

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Veterans and disabled workers who often struggle to find work could have an easier time landing a job under new federal regulations.

The rules, announced Tuesday by the Labor Department, will require most government contractors to set a goal of having disabled workers make up at least 7 percent of their employees. The benchmark for veterans would be 8 percent, a rate that could change from year to year depending on the overall number of former military members in the workforce.

The new requirements could have a major impact on hiring since federal contractors and subcontractors account for about 16 million workers — more than 20 percent of the nation's workforce. But some business groups have threatened legal action, complaining that the rules conflict with federal laws that discourage employers from asking about a job applicant's disability status.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez called the new policy a "win-win" that will benefit workers "who belong in the economic mainstream and deserve a chance to work and opportunity to succeed." He said it also would benefit employers by increasing their access to a diverse pool of new workers.

"To create opportunity, we need to strengthen our civil rights laws and make sure they have the intended effect," Perez told reporters in a conference call announcing the rules.

The unemployment rate for disabled workers is a staggering 14.7 percent, nearly twice the rate of 7.4 percent for the general population. The jobless rate for all veterans is 7.3 percent, but for veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it's 9.9 percent, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rules are expected to affect about 171,000 companies doing business with the federal government, said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Generally, the rules affect those contractors with at least 50 employees and $50,000 in government contracts.

Shiu estimated as many as 585,000 disabled workers more than 200,000 veterans could get new jobs if all the companies meet the hiring goals within the first year of compliance.

Labor officials say the new benchmarks are only goals and not specific hiring quotas. But companies that can't provide documents showing they tried to meet the goal could risk having their federal contracts revoked.

If a company can't immediately meet the new goals, it is required to examine recruitment or outreach practices to decide how to improve. No fine, penalty or sanction would be imposed solely for failing to meet the goal, Shiu said.

The new metrics for the disabled and veterans are similar to those contractors have long used for women and minorities. They will take effect six months from now to give contractors enough time to process them. Under the rules, companies must keep detailed records of recruitment and hiring efforts taken to meet the new goals.

Daniel Yager, president of the HR Policy Association, which represents more than 350 large U.S. corporations, suggested his group may challenge the disability rules in court.

"Simply mandating a numerical 'goal' for all jobs in all contractors' workplaces, and then requiring employers to invade the privacy of applicants and employees with questions about their physical and mental condition, destroys everything companies have done to integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce in a sensitive, discreet manner," Yager said.

Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, praised the Obama administration for approving the new rules. She predicted that employers would not have a hard time meeting the new benchmarks for disabled workers.

"There are many organizations in the disability field who stand prepared to help companies meet these goals," Glazer said.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • honest day's work?
    The giveaway federal government leadership appears to have proven again how to disable private sector companies by mandating more rules and regulations to 'qualify' them to do government work. Looks to me that the Labor Secretary, et al, have never owned a private firm, nor tried to make ends meet and make a profit. With the DBE (Disadvantaged), WBE, MBE, VBE, and now DISBE (disabled) requirements to provide government work, do we now have to have half our employees in some minority classification that expands actual reverse discrimination in order to meet an idealistic goal established by folks who get a paycheck without a care or cause for selling and performing work for a profit?

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

  5. This place is great! I'm piggy backing and saying the Cobb salad is great. But the ribs are awesome. $6.49 for ribs and 2 sides?! They're delicious. If you work downtown, head over there.

ADVERTISEMENT