The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) describing specific actions that federal agencies must take to comply with their obligation to engage in affirmative action in employment for individuals with disabilities, setting a goal of 12 percent workforce participation.
The NPRM is available in the Public Inspection portion of the Federal Register and was officially published Feb. 24, 2016. Members of the public have 60 days from that date, until April 25, 2016, to submit comments. EEOC has also published a question-and-answer document on the NPRM and a document providing background information and a summary of the NPRM.
Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to create affirmative action plans for the employment of people with disabilities, and to submit those plans to EEOC for approval. On May 15, 2014, EEOC published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking for public input on how the EEOC should revise its regulations to clarify what an affirmative action plan must include in order to be approved.
The proposed rule reaffirms the federal government’s commitment to being a model employer of people with disabilities. It would require federal agencies to adopt the goal of achieving a 12 percent representation rate for individuals with disabilities, and a 2 percent representation rate for individuals with targeted/severe disabilities. Targeted disabilities are those that the government has, for several decades, placed aspecial emphasis on in hiring because they pose the greatest barriers to employment. The goals would apply at both higher and lower levels of federal employment. Hiring efforts would be further improved through focused recruitment efforts and simplified access to disability hiring programs and services.
In addition to setting numerical goals and requiring enhanced efforts to hire individuals with disabilities, the proposed rule would require agencies to provide personal assistance services to employees who, because of a disability, need these services to help with activities such as eating and using the restroom while at work.