At the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2014 Employment Law & Legislative Conference, speaker Tim Orellano started his presentation on how to comply with new federal affirmative action regulations by leading his audience in one big, collective moan.
The exercise got a laugh, but it also illustrated just how burdensome Orellano believes the rules will be for those in the HR industry.
In the summer of 2013 the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published final rules to improve job opportunities with federal contractors for individuals with disabilities and for protected veterans. Among the changes are new quotas for hiring veterans and individuals with disabilities, a requirement that larger contractors apply the new quotas to each job group, and closer scrutiny during audits—all of which will require HR professionals to change how they prepare their affirmative action plans.
In fact, Orellano likened the OFCCP to a tiger that’s “ferocious, sly, hunting you down, because all of you are evildoers, and if they find you, you are their prey.”
“This is all about your money,” said Orellano, president of The Human Resources Team, an Arkansas-based HR management consulting firm. “The OFCCP goes after all sorts of pots of gold. If you don’t have documents during an audit to substantiate why statistics are working against you, you have inferred or implied discrimination because you can’t prove otherwise.”
Though Orellano acknowledged that OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu has said she wants to be flexible with contractors to help them comply, he warned that the office’s compliance officers “are ready to go—they’re coming out of the gate; they’re really chomping at the bit.”
Moreover, the concept of conciliation “no longer means discussing whether the OFCCP could be in error as to law or fact. Conciliation now means ‘Bring your checkbook.’ ”
And because compliance officers’ performance is typically measured by the number of violations they issue, he said, HR managers should expect several “minor technical violations,” such as record-keeping errors.
Thus, it’s important that HR managers focus on “total technical compliance” and documenting good-faith efforts to recruit and hire veterans and individuals with disabilities.
According to Orellano, during audits, HR managers should expect compliance officers to demand a lengthy list of documents—including compensation data, employment tests and even “pictures of your parking spaces” for those with disabilities. He said compliance officers are notorious for wanting such documents immediately.
Among his other tips were:
- Make sure your payroll department or human resources information system can accommodate data on veterans and individuals with disabilities.
- Learn how the new requirements will affect your purchasing department, IT, applicant-tracking process, accounting, budget and managers.
- Advise top managers about the new regulations, and explore the resources they may need to comply.
- Assess your job titles, job descriptions and compensation-decision methods, and make changes if necessary.
- Reach out to groups that represent veterans and individuals with disabilities as one way to document your good-faith efforts toward compliance.
- Keep careful records of all accommodation requests from individuals with disabilities that are denied, and the reasons for the denial.
- Conduct a compensation analysis to spot any hint of favoritism toward a gender or race.
- Conduct an adverse-impact analysis in hiring, promotions and terminations.
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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