Every year, over 10,000 Human Resources professionals from all over the world flock to the annual Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference and Expo, and the theme for this year was Cause the Effect. There were over 300 sessions that focused on ways for human resource professionals to improve their workplace with new innovative ideas, empowerment, and compliance. I happened to be one of these attendees and was able to network with hundreds of human resource professionals and attended sessions that were both beneficial to my education, and for clients of both SyncStream Solutions and OnCentive.
Many are still feeling the effects of the last two years of COVID, and numerous employers are facing a similar issue: employment retention. So, employers are having to look at new ways to keep their current employees and attract new talent with rich benefits programs that are cost efficient and ACA complaint. However, employers must be aware of new pitfalls when looking for new employees. They must make sure that they are being inclusive to everyone and even some Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) aren’t currently compliant for what is coming.
Currently, if you are a federal contractor, but not limited to Public and Private businesses, you will have to be wary as to how you write your open position job postings because the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) will be closely watching them to ensure that you are treating everyone fairly and respectfully. They want everyone to have equal access to opportunities and resources, which means all barriers and bias will need to be removed from the workplace.
Employers must provide access to advancement opportunities and resources to all employees. This new collaborative effort with the OFCCP and the EEOC will be called “HIRE Initiative.” Its main goal is to create greater access to quality jobs for underrepresented communities.
Here are some policies/practices that may involve systematic discrimination:
· Criminal background checks that automatically reject any applicants with a positive background
· Word-of-Mouth recruitment practices
· Steering applicants to certain jobs based on race or gender
· Customer preferences
· Big Data using algorithms to sort applications
· Historically segregated occupations or industries
· Artificial Intelligence (AI)
To learn more about the HIRE Initiative, please visit HIRE Initiative |U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).
With this new initiative also comes company audits of their practices from the OFCCP. The OFCCP has been very active in 2022 by launching a Contractor Portal with contractors needing to certify compliance by June 30th,2022. They have also issued the Pay Equity Audit, Effective Compliance Evaluations and Enforcement, and announced modifications to the Nondiscrimination Obligations of Federal Contractors: Procedures to Resolve Potential Employment Discrimination in March 2022.
Most federal contractors are familiar with their regulatory compliance obligations which includes evaluation of their compensation systems to determine if there are gender, race, or ethnicity-based disparities. The Pay Equity Audit (Directive 2022-01) provides guidance on how the OFCCP will evaluate compliance with the applicable regulations and laws that are currently in place. The Effective Compliance Evaluations & Enforcement (DIR 2022-02) provides guidance on how the OFCCP will evaluate policies and expectations for contractors.
In order to strengthen the effectiveness of its compliance evaluations and promote contractor compliance, the OFCCP will do the following:
- Conduct comprehensive compliance evaluations and reduce delay by promoting the timely exchange of information.
- Promote a proactive approach to compliance where federal contractors are required to actively self-audit employment systems to identify and resolve problems in their employment practices.
- Coordinate multi-establishment compliance review including evaluations of common policies and patterns when an employer has multiple establishments scheduled for review.
- Promote regular, open, and transparent communication by all parties during the compliance evaluation to ensure contractors understand the nature of any concerns identified and to facilitate a prompt resolution of violations and completion of reviews.
In conclusion, there are a lot of new initiatives occurring for federal contractors, but don’t assume that these changes won’t affect you. The EEOC is expecting to have some administrative changes occur over the summer and some of these rules may be applied to their compliance reporting. So, stay tuned and be proactive in evaluating your information from job postings, pay disparities, and providing equal opportunities for potential new hires and existing employees.
SyncStream Solutions and OnCentive will keep you updated on any potential changes that may occur to EEOC compliance reporting due to these new initiatives.