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Section 503 and VEVVRA Rule Changes to Advance Employment Outcomes and Economic Opportunity for People with Disabilities, Veterans

September 30, 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor announced last month two final rules to improve hiring and employment outcomes for veterans and people with disabilities. The rules update regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Both rules go into effect in March 2014, and will strengthen civil rights laws to create more economic opportunity for both veterans and people with disabilities. For more than 40 years, these laws have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified veterans and people with disabilities.

The Section 503 rule update introduces new hiring goals for people with disabilities for federal contractors and subcontractors. The new rule states a goal of 7 percent of each job group in a federal contractor’s or subcontractor’s workforce should consist of qualified individuals with disabilities. The rule also outlines specific actions contractors must take regarding recruitment, training, record keeping and policy dissemination practices that echo long-standing workplace equality requirements for women and minorities.

To comply with the VEVRAA rule update, federal contractors must establish a quantifiable metric to measure their success in recruiting and employing veterans. Contractors need to adopt an annual benchmark that is based on either the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8 percent), or their own benchmark based on the best available data. Accountability and record-keeping requirements are fortified by the rule update, as are clarifications around job listings and subcontract requirements. These improvements allow contractors to measure effectively their recruitment and compliance efforts.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for enforcing Section 503 and VEVRRA as well as Executive Order 11246. These three laws require federal government contractors and subcontractors to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

For more information on the Section 503 and VEVRAA rules, visit and You can also call OFCCP's toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit

The LEAD Center will continue to bring you news, information, webinar and training opportunities about Section 503 and VEVRRA and continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on leveraging these rules to advance employment and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for people with disabilities.