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National annual VEVRAA hiring benchmark lowered slightly to 6.7 percent

By Cynthia L. Hackerott, J.D.

The annual national benchmark for hiring of protected veterans is now 6.7 percent, the OFCCP announced on March 31, 2017, noting that it has updated its “VEVRAA Benchmark Database” webpage to reflect data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on March 22, 2017. The current benchmark, which is based on the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force, has dropped slightly from the previous 6.9 percent benchmark. The 6.7 percent benchmark is effective as of March 31. Contractors who adopted the previous year’s national benchmark of 6.9 percent after March 4, 2016 (last year’s benchmark adjustment effective date), but prior to this announcement, may keep their benchmark at 6.9 percent, the OFCCP states.

Continuing a practice that it began last year, the OFCCP roughly aligned the effective date for the Annual VEVRAA Benchmark with the date that the BLS published the annual data from which the OFCCP calculates the benchmark. A webpage with the effective dates for all Annual VEVRAA Benchmarks is available on the OFCCP website.

The Benchmark Database was established pursuant to the OFCCP’s revised regulations at 41 CFR §60-300 that implement the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). Among other obligations, the revised regulations (78 FR 58614–58679) at §60-300.45 provide that covered contractors must set, for each of their establishments, annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans, either based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce or based on the five factors described in 41 CFR §60-300.45(b)(2). The OFCCP notes in its announcement that it has updated national and state information in the Benchmark Database for federal contractors and subcontractors who calculate an individualized hiring benchmark using the five-factor method.

The benchmark applies only to hiring data and does not need to be applied to each Affirmative Action Plan job group. The agency has repeatedly made clear that failing to meet the benchmark is not a violation of the regulations and will not carry any penalties. Rather, contractors should use the result of this comparison when assessing the effectiveness of their veteran outreach and recruitment efforts. Importantly, the OFCCP has also emphasized that failure to set the benchmark and meet the data collection, analysis, and recordkeeping requirements related to this benchmark does violate the regulations.