Today, as a country, we celebrate our nation’s veterans and recognize all they have done. We give our sincerest appreciation to all those who have sacrificed and given their service for our country.
Over the past 18 months, employers who do business with the federal government have been working hard to do their part to recognize the value and skills of those who have served by providing veterans with opportunities for employment. In March 2014, OFCCP’s revised VEVRAA regulations went into effect, setting forth government contractor affirmative action responsibilities for the recruitment and retention of the country’s protected veterans. In addition, at least 22 states across the country have implemented veteran hiring preference laws to provide our veterans with additional opportunities for employment. This number continues to grow.
And it looks like these efforts have paid off. The most recent labor statistics show the veteran unemployment rate below 4.0% – lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.0%. The general success of veteran hiring however, doesn’t mean government contractor’s work is complete and employers can relax their efforts. In fact, the opposite is likely true.
As OFCCP Director Pat Shiu has said, “what gets measured gets done” and the Agency is going to continue to do its part to ensure the hiring of veterans by government contractors across the country continues to get done.
As part of the new regulations, government contractors have obligations to establish a veteran hiring benchmark. The current benchmark as set by OFCCP is at 7% – meaning a government contractor is to aim have at least 7% of its hires during its affirmative action plan year be individuals who identify as protected veterans. With veteran’s finding more and more employment opportunities, the market for available qualified veterans has tightened. And the Agency recognizes this, reducing once already the established benchmark. This tightening market means contractors will need to work harder to identify and attract qualified veterans.
In addition, in audits today we continue to see increased scrutiny and inquiry into employer’s good faith outreach efforts and veteran employment practices. OFCCP is expecting employers to demonstrate compliance with obligations to advertise positions as well as to continually assess the effectiveness of the employer’s outreach efforts. Contractors are required to be able to demonstrate they are engaging in appropriate practices with respect to the recruitment, hiring and retention of veterans.
So, as we take time today to thank our veterans for the service, it is also a good time to reflect on your employment practices to ensure your company is doing what it can to repay those that have sacrificed for the greater good.