February 11, 2014

4 MONTHS LATER… SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A HIRING BENCHMARK?

A little over four months ago, we asked the question, “Exactly what is a hiring benchmark”? In that blog, we reviewed the VEVRAA regulatory language, the preamble to the regulation, and the OFCCP FAQ explaining the difference between the benchmark and a goal. We highlighted the inconsistency in the definitions and explanations provided across these documents, and provided our bottom line interpretation, that the benchmark is a yardstick and should be used to assist in assessing the appropriateness and effectiveness of outreach and recruitment efforts.

Now that four months have passed, and the OFCCP has given a webinar on how to implement your new VEVRAA AAP, let’s revisit – what exactly is a hiring benchmark?

Helpfully, the very first question and answer during the VEVRAA webinar was “What do you do with the VEVRAA hiring benchmark? How do you determine if you’ve met it?”

Keir Bickerstaffe, Senior Attorney, Office of the Solicitor took this question, and here is how he answered:

“Whether or not you meet the benchmark…first of all you establish the benchmark in one of two ways…so whatever your benchmark is, then you would look at the hiring data you’ve accumulated for the year. If the percentage of protected veterans you’ve hired is equal to or above your benchmark then you have met your benchmark. But again, I want to emphasize that that’s not the be all and end all…not how compliance will be measured necessarily…contractor’s won’t be cited for not meeting the benchmark…want contractors to really look at outreach and recruitment…and tailor accordingly going forward.”

DCI Comment: Ok, so now we have clarity. The benchmark should be compared against the percent of protected veterans hired, and used as a tool to determine the effectiveness/appropriateness of outreach and recruitment efforts.

The second question asked about the 5 factor method to establish your own benchmark. Again, Keir took the lead to answer, but then Naomi Levin, Branch Chief of Policy, OFCCP, added on to that response and followed up with this additional clarification about what a hiring benchmark is.

“…Let me also remind everybody that the benchmark, the hiring benchmark, is what you plan to hire for next year. So you would be looking at the composition of your current workforce and seeing, using that benchmark as the yardstick against that and setting your benchmark for what you plan to hire the next year.”

DCI Comment: Wait, so now we’re supposed to assess our workforce – like with the 11246 and 503 utilization goals and analysis? Also, how can we set a percentage or number of protected veterans we “plan to hire” without setting a quota? This response seems to confuse a hiring benchmark with a goal (and they wonder why contractors are still confused?).

The bottom line is that there is clearly still confusion about exactly what the hiring benchmark is supposed to be. DCI’s position remains the same, and in line with the explanation provided by the solicitor’s office. The regulations only require that you set a benchmark, but you should be looking at the overall percentage of protected veterans hired at each establishment to see if you are meeting that goal. The raw numbers you are required list will allow OFCCP to do that, so you should know what those numbers say. If your percentage is lower than the benchmark, make sure you can demonstrate that you have made adjustments to your outreach and recruitment to attempt to improve.And we will leave you with a little food for thought. Since the 8% hiring benchmark is based on all veterans, and the regulations don’t state what (if anything) contractors should compare it to, does that mean contractors can compare their hiring of all veterans, not just protected veterans, to the 8%? Stay tuned…

by Kristen Pryor, M.S., HR Analyst and David Cohen, President, DCI Consulting Group

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INDUSTRY NEWS & LEARNING

DCI Consulting is a risk management human resources consulting firm strategically located in Washington, D.C.

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