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EEOC Requests Public Comment on Its New Affirmative Action Employment Regulations

March 30, 2016

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), titled “Affirmative Action for People with Disabilities in the Federal Government,” which would codify all existing federal disability-related affirmative action practices and add new goals for hiring individuals with disabilities. The new law would require federal agencies to create a plan to hire individuals with disabilities for 12 percent of all positions above the GS-11 pay grade and 12 percent below the GS-11 pay grade. In addition, agencies should aim to hire persons with targeted or severe disabilities, as defined by OPM Form SF-256, for two percent of their workforce above the GS-11 pay grade and two percent below the GS-11 pay grade. The proposed rule would also require federal agencies to take significant steps to ensure that information on disability and reasonable accommodations is available to both job applicants with disabilities and human resources staff at the agency. 

Federal agencies would be required to provide certain health-related services to their employees at work, including personal assistant services (PAS). PAS are services that assist a person with a disability with crucial activities of daily living, including using the restroom, eating at the cafeteria, and getting around the office. These services may be necessary to enable workers to advance to positions with higher pay grades as required by the proposed rule, since Medicaid buy-in programs for individuals with disabilities often have income caps lower than the GS-11 pay range. Under the proposed rule, many people with disabilities who could not otherwise access these PAS services at work, or who could not afford to pay for them out of pocket, would receive the services they need free of charge. Although PAS would not be considered a reasonable accommodation, the rule would classify the service as a mandatory affirmative action step. 

Public comments on this rule are due on April 25, 2016. Members of the public may submit comments through the Federal Register.