Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to the most common questions about Affirmative Action Planning.
Each non-construction contractor/subcontractor with 50 or more employees is required to develop a written Affirmative Action Program (AAP) for each of its establishments within 120 days from the start of the Federal contract, if it:
- Has a Federal contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more;
- Has government bills of lading which in any 12-month period total, or can reasonably be expected to total, $50,000 or more;
- Serves as a depository of Federal funds in any amount; or
- Is a financial institution that is an issuing and paying agent for U.S. savings bonds and savings notes in any amount.
An entity holding a contract to provide goods, property, or non-personal services to an agency of the federal government is a federal contractor.
A subcontractor is an entity that holds a contract with a federal contractor to perform some or all the work to fulfill the contractor’s obligations under the contract with a federal government agency.
This definition of a contractor would include, for example, defense contractors and companies leasing buildings to the government, banks, hospitals/medical centers, and universities.
As a condition of doing business with the U.S. Federal Government, companies meeting certain contract and employment levels must prepare, in accordance with U.S. federal regulations, an Affirmative Action Program (AAP).
Fundamentally, an Affirmative Action Program is a management tool to ensure equal employment opportunity (EEO).
A quick overview of an AAP based on the U.S. federal regulations is as follows:
- Affirmative action programs contain several quantitative analyses designed to evaluate the composition of a contractor’s workforce as compared to the composition of the relevant labor pools.
- Affirmative action programs include action-oriented programs. If women and minorities are not being employed at an expected rate given their availability in the relevant labor pool, the contractor’s affirmative action program will include specific practical steps designed to address this underutilization.
- Effective affirmative action programs also include internal auditing and reporting systems as a means of measuring the contractor’s progress toward achieving the workforce that would be expected in the absence of discrimination.
The US Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued regulations under the following laws regarding affirmative action programs for different protected groups:
Executive Order 11246 – nondiscrimination and affirmative action regarding females and minorities:
- 41 CFR Section 60-1 — Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors
- 41 CFR Section 60-2 — Affirmative Action Programs
Vietnam Era Readjustment and Assistance Act (VEVRAA) of 1974, as amended, and the Jobs for Veterans Act – nondiscrimination and affirmative action regarding protected veterans:
- 41 CFR Section 300 — Nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations regarding disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, active duty wartime or campaign badge veterans, and Armed Forces service medal veterans.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – nondiscrimination and affirmative action regarding individuals with disabilities:
- 41 CFR Section 741 — Nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations regarding individuals with disabilities.
A copy of these regulations can be found at www.ecfr.gov.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), an agency in the U.S. Department of Labor, is primarily responsible for conducting the contract compliance program to ensure that contractors and subcontractors are in compliance with their obligations under the affirmative action laws and regulations.
OFCCP does this by conducting compliance evaluations (audits), and investigating complaints of discrimination.
A full-blown review of a contractor’s workforce demographics and personnel practices to determine if it maintains nondiscriminatory hiring and employment practices and is taking affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are placed, trained, upgraded, promoted, and otherwise treated during employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected veterans’ status.
The Evaluation may consist of any one or a combination of the following procedures:
- Desk audit
- An on-site review
- An off-site analysis
The EEO-1 Report is a demographic profile of an employer’s workforce, based on data from the end of any pay period during the 4th quarter (October 1 – December 31). The report must be filed by March 31st of the following year.
Companies (non-contractors) with 100 employees, or Federal contractors and subcontractors with 50 or more employees, are required to file the report annually.
The VETS-4212 Report is a profile of an employer’s workforce and hiring data regarding protected veterans’ status. It is based on data from the end of any pay period between July 1st and August 31st. The report must be filed by September 30th.
Federal contractors and subcontractors with 50 or more employees, and Federal contracts of at least $150,000, are required to file the report annually. Companies that meet the employee and contract dollar value thresholds during a calendar year are required to file the VETS-4212 report during the following calendar year.