Slacking on OFCCP Compliance

 

 

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

By the fall of 2013, those of us in the federal contractor community were made aware of some significant changes coming down from the OFCCP. In good old OFCCP fashion, we were inundated with several new directives that were proposed with very little guidance to employers. Of course all of the major employment law firms went to town developing webinars and the like. Unfortunately, those did little to ease employer’s pains and added to the growing number of contractors in a vegetative state over the new compliance requirements. In January of 2014, I went to a conference in San Francisco to give a concurrent session as well as lead a roundtable on diversity and inclusion. During my roundtable, I asked for a show of hands as I attempted to ascertain how many federal contractors I had at the table.

What I found fascinating was all of the participants were federal contractors and when asked if they started reviewing and planning to comply by March 24th of 2014 as stipulated-they all gave me a resounding “no”. I attempted not to look astonished but nevertheless I continued sharing tidbits about things I was doing to get ahead of the new outreach and recruitment efforts analysis requirements. They all swore they were going to be on top of it when they returned to the office. I certainly hope that was true.

That was then and this is now…

We are now nearly one year into the new compliance and I still hear murmurs of companies not getting in OFCCP shape. If you haven’t started or are taking your sweet time- wake up! The audit list now has 22 items  you will be responsible for. Get ahead of it now and lessen your pain when you inevitably receive your notice.

My fellow HR colleagues usually hate me for this-but I believe that much of the pain felt in complying with OFCCP regulations is due to how we approach it. When you see these regulations as onerous ( and I agree some of it is) and fail to see what you get in return for your compliance (which is government money)- you will ultimately procrastinate in doing what is needed. If you treat hiring of minorities, females, individuals with disabilities and veterans as quotas, you will always be in a rut of trying to explain why your AAP goals don’t budge year to year. When you receive government money it is only right that you be held to a higher standard with regard to how you do business. If you take a little bit at a time and approach the requirements as both a business imperative and priority-it will become less burdensome.

Here are five pieces of OFCCP compliance that employers are slacking on:

1) Is your outreach and recruitment efforts rooted in quality or quantity ? You need to be consistently auditing your diversity outreach and recruitment process to see what works and what doesn’t. If you identify outreach activities that aren’t yielding candidates or hires- you need to be proactive and cease utilizing that outreach.

2) Have you revised your self-identification forms yet? According to the new regulations, you need to be asking applicants to self-identify both pre and post offer. This includes updates to include self-identification for Individuals with Disabilities (IWD). Get your OMB-Approved form here.

3) How are you handling reasonable accommodation requests during the hiring process? Be sure that your ATS works well with assistive devices and technologies in an effort to ensure that individuals with disabilities are give equal opportunity to apply and be considered for vacancies.

4)  Have they added your EO clause to all subcontracts? Get purchasing involved! This is another requirement that contractors are overlooking. Equal Opportunity clauses must be added to subcontracts, along with language that explains subcontractors obligations as a federal contractor.

5) What’s your hiring benchmark? The 7% goal for IWDs’ is a lofty goal for many businesses. My advice is set your benchmark and make sure it is attainable. If you set it at 5-6% you are just slightly below 7% and it looks admirable that you attempted to get close. It remains to be seen whether contractors will be penalized for playing it safe here.

Now that you have some food for thought, prepare yourself by doing mock audits. Also, encourage your recruitment teams to regularly audit their activities and raise any issues ahead of time so you can tweak things prior to an onsite or offsite audit. Good luck!

“Pregnancy” is not a bad word

Image Courtesy of “Think Progress”

After being pregnant three times over the past seven years, I have seen, heard, and endured things that have both shocked me and made me angry. For starters, there are far too many employers that are still treating pregnancy as if it is a cardinal sin and a complete undoing to their business. Having children whether as an older more tenured employee or an early careerist is a life decision that need not be vetted or agreed with by an employer. Certainly, there are the usual considerations of the inevitable impact of having children depending on where you are in your career; but they are just that- considerations.

Consider this instead:

*The U.S. is one of only 4 countries that doesn’t offer paid leave to new mothers — the others are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho.

*Having a baby is a leading cause of “poverty spells” in the U.S. — when income dips below what’s needed for basic living expenses.

When you are notified by an employee that they are pregnant, they haven’t just given you their resignation simultaneously. Pregnant women are not only capable of continuing their duties (unless sickness and or the physical nature of their job interfere), but they are worthy of having your support as an employer.

As a new business owner, I would like to impart some food-for thought for dealing with pregnancy in general and pregnant employees:

  1. Stop saying dumb things to your pregnant employees. If you are hesitant to say what you’re thinking or you are unsure; do yourself a favor and be quiet.
  2. Be kind. In as much as pregnant women are willing and capable, a little compassion can go a long way.  Ask them how they are feeling. If they are struggling during the first trimester or beyond; allow some leniency. It’s that whole do onto others philosophy.
  3. Did you also know?  *51% of new mothers lack any paid leave so some take unpaid leave, some quit, some even lose their jobs. If you can help it, get out of this third-world mentality that exists in the US and offer your female employees a dose of relief in the way of a paid maternity leave, the ability to phase-back to work, short-term disability etc.
  4. While said employee is on leave, do your best to refrain from contacting her regarding work related things or anything in general. Maternity leave is supposed to be a time for healing, bonding, and family. Respect the employee’s time.
  5. Lastly, if there are concerns about adequate time and the like- communicate your concern, but don’t over communicate. There are dr.’s appointments, unforeseen sicknesses, etc. Again, if this is a good employee do your best to work through these hurdles. In business, there are always workarounds whether you want to openly admit it or not).
  6. Don’t forget your male employees. They are becoming dads too and may need your support as well.

Pregnant women are not second-class citizens. You do not have to fundamentally agree with the act of childbearing or its timing but you do have an obligation to respect the decision and support your employees as best you can.

Every year Working Mother.com compiles a list of the best 100 companies for the working mother. One of their requirements for application acceptance is that they offer at least one week of paid family leave or they must be on their way to implementing some sort of paid maternity leave. The list is great and proof that nothing I said here is pie-in-the-sky. Check the list of companies out here.

Here’s a wacky bonus tip: don’t touch your pregnant employee unless you ask. I once had a manager push in my protruding belly button because she thought it was odd and cute. Please stop doing these things. It doesn’t bode well for anyone involved.

What are some innovative arrangements or policies you have implemented to support your pregnant or even new mother employees?

*Statistics from MomRising.org- http://www.momsrising.org/issues_and_resources/maternity

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