Sunday, March 4, 2012

Employers Push Back on New Hiring Target for Disabled

From Newsmax:

Employers Push Back on New Hiring Target for Disabled
The Obama administration is pushing a new regulation requiring most federal contractors to have disabled persons comprise at least 7 percent of their work force or risk having their contracts revoked.
One problem with the proposal: Only about 5.7 percent of the civilian work force — those working or looking for work — technically qualifies as disabled, meaning there might not be enough disabled workers for every business to meet the new requirement.
The Labor Department proposal “could reshape hiring at roughly 200,000 companies that generate $700 billion a year in contracts with the federal government,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Businesses with fewer than 50 workers and less than $50,000 in federal contracts would be exempt from the requirement. But larger firms that don’t reach the 7 percent target could lose their contracts or be barred from obtaining future contracts until they demonstrate that they attempted to meet the goal.
"We are very concerned that the department is moving forward with what is clearly a fundamental change in longstanding policies regarding affirmative action," Jeffrey McGuiness told The Journal. McGuiness is president of the HR Policy Association, a trade group for human-resource executives at more than 300 of the largest private-sector U.S. companies.
Some employers fear they could have to fire nondisabled workers to achieve the 7 percent ratio, and say that existing federal law prohibits them from asking if a job applicant is actually disabled — “potentially forcing firms to violate one law in order to comply with another,” The Journal observes.
The proposal doesn’t spell out what would be considered a disability, but the Americans with Disabilities Act says employees are disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities.
Regulators are reportedly also considering requiring that 2 percent of a business’ workers be severely disabled, such as those with total blindness or missing extremities.
A number of employers and business groups have contacted the Labor Department to express their opposition to the new rule.
Another Obama administration effort affecting the disabled, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (or CLASS Act) was originally included in Obamacare. It was intended to allow citizens to purchase insurance so they could collect an additional source of income if they were later disabled.
But the provision met stiff resistance, and in October 2011 the administration announced it would be dropped.

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