The U.S. Department Of Labor (“DOL”) recently published a Final Rule to revise the regulations implementing the reporting requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (“VEVRAA”). Generally, VEVRAA requires federal contractors and subcontractors (“contractors”) to annually report on the total number of their employees who belong to the categories of veterans protected under VEVRAA, and the total number of those protected veterans who were hired during the reporting period. The Final Rule revises the VETS-100A Report and renames it the VETS-4212 Report. The Final Rule also eliminates the VETS-100 Report, which was used for federal contracts entered into before December 1, 2003.
Under the prior regulations, contractors were required to report the number of qualified covered veteran employees and new hires in their workforces by occupational category and hiring location during the reporting period. VEVRAA defines “covered veteran” as any of the following veterans: (1) disabled veterans; (2) Armed Forces service medal veterans; (3) veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; and (4) recently separated veterans. Contractors reported this information on the VETS-100 or VETS-100A Report, depending on the date the federal contract was entered into or modified and the amount of the contract. With the VETS-100 and VETS-100A Reports, contractors reported data on veterans’ employment by ten occupational categories and by each of the four categories of veterans identified above.
Additionally, VETS-100 and VETS-100A reporting was based on the number of veterans in each veteran category rather than number of employees protected by VEVRAA. For example, an employee who was a disabled veteran and an Armed Forces service medal veteran would have been counted in each of those protected veteran categories. As a result, employees were counted in more than one veteran category, making it impossible to accurately determine the total number of covered veterans employed or newly hired in the contractor’s workforce based on the data submitted in the VETS-100 and VETS-100A Reports.
Under the new regulations, contractors will use the VETS-4212 Report to provide information on protected veterans in their workforce in the aggregate, rather than for each distinct veteran category. According to the DOL, by making available data on the total number of protected veterans, it will now be possible to make cross-year comparisons of contractors’ employment and hiring of protected veterans in the annual report. It will also enable the DOL to calculate the proportion of each contractor’s workforce and new hires made up of protected veterans. The information will also show trends in the employment of protected veterans and help assess the extent to which contractors are providing employment opportunities to protected veterans.
The Final Rule also replaces the term “covered veteran” with the term “protected veteran.” However, both terms have the same meaning and encompass disabled veterans, Armed Forces service medal veterans, veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, and recently separated veterans.
Contractors are not required to revise their veteran self-identification forms for employees and applicants under the Final Rule. Although contractors may continue to ask employees and applicants for their specific veteran category, continuing to request veteran category information, particularly disability information, when the law does not require it, may open up contractors to discrimination complaints. Therefore, contractors should consider revising their veteran self-identification forms to ask only whether the applicant or employee is a “protected veteran” or not. However, contractors should list the four categories of “protected veterans” and their respective definitions on their veteran self-identification forms so applicants and employees can determine whether they qualify as “protected veterans.”
The Final Rule took effect on October 27, 2014. However, to ensure that contractors have sufficient time to make any needed adjustments to their recordkeeping systems, VETS will not require contractors to comply with the new reporting requirements until the reporting cycle in 2015.
This client alert is intended to inform clients and other interested parties about legal matters of current interest and is not intended as legal advice.