Labor Department Asks Contractors to Step Up Hiring of Disabled Workers

December 8, 2011

The Labor Department on Friday will propose requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to increase their hiring of employees with disabilities, mandating a specific goal of 7 percent.

"This proposed rule represents one of the most significant advances in protecting the civil rights of workers with disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act" in 1990, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in an announcement. "President Obama has demonstrated a commitment to people with disabilities. This proposed rule would help federal contractors better fulfill their legal responsibility to hire qualified workers with disabilities."

The proposed rule planned for the Dec. 9 Federal Register spells out actions contractors must take in recruitment, training, record-keeping and policy dissemination. The steps are much like those long required for hiring women and minorities. The rule is designed to strengthen the affirmative action requirements established in Section 503 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, according to the Labor Department. The announcement noted that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 13 percent, or one and a half times the overall jobless rate. 

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