The Office of Management and Budget approved the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ disability self-identification form on Jan. 22, 2014. Federal contractors should use the form beginning with their next affirmative action program cycle on or after March 24.
The form explains that because federal contractors do business with the government, they must reach out to, hire and provide equal opportunity to qualified people with disabilities. “To help us measure how we are doing, we are asking you to tell us if you have a disability or if you ever had a disability,” the form states, but it emphasizes that completion of the form is voluntary.
The form also notes that disabilities include, but are not limited to:
- Bipolar disorder.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair.
- Intellectual disability.
- Major depression.
- Missing or partially missing limbs.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Muscular dystrophy.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
A Few Caveats
The form should not be used to solicit disability information before an employment offer until after March 24, stressed Kristen Pryor, an HR analyst at DCI Consulting in Washington, D.C.
But for affirmative action program cycles occurring on March 24 or later, federal contractors must ask applicants(pre- and post-offer) and employees to complete this form, she explained.
“If applications are accepted electronically, they [contractors] need to be working to get this form into those systems and tested,” Pryor recommended. That said, “Contractors cannot change the form in any way except to convert it to an electronically fillable form.”
Pryor added: “Pre-offer invitation must occur at the Internet applicant point, generally when you would solicit race/gender. Post-offer must occur prior to the start of work duties. Employee invitation must occur within the first year of compliance and every five years thereafter,” since people may become disabled after they start working.
“The form is supposed to be kept separate from other employment records and recorded in a ‘data analysis file’ simply for tallying and reporting purposes,” she said. “The new regulations require data collection on the number of disabled applicants and number hired, as well as utilization analysis on percentage of employee representation.”
She concluded that “the applicant or employee should still follow the contractor’s established procedures for determining and providing any necessary reasonable accommodations, which would often involve consultation with or documentation from a physician” if the disability is not obvious.
Allen Smith, J.D., is the manager of workplace law content for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMlegaleditor.