Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New Regulations Simplify Reporting Requirements for Federal Contractors . . . Really, They Do!

If you do business with the federal government, chances are that you're feeling weighed down by the various new requirements placed on you over the past year. We’ve discussed these requirements in past posts here and here. That's why you may be surprised to hear that the US Department of Labor's Veteran Employment and Training Service (VETS) published a final rule last week that actually makes something easier for federal contractors. The rule modifies and simplifies the reporting requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans' adjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) for federal contractors with contracts of $100,000 or more.  Previously, contractors had to file a VETS-100 Report and/or VETS-100A Report, on which they reported data on "covered veterans" in their workforce. The VETS' new rule eliminates the VETS-100 Report and renames the VETS-100A Report as the VETS-4212 Report.

In keeping with the updated VEVRAA regulations that became effective earlier this year, the new VETS rule replaces the term "covered veteran" with "protected veteran," which is defined to include the four categories of: (1) "disabled veteran"; (2) "recently separated veteran;" (3) "activity duty wartime or campaign badge veteran;" or (4) "Armed Forces service medal veteran." The bigger change, though, is that while the old VETS-100A Report required contractors to specify the categories of covered veterans they hired or employed, the new VETS-4212 Report only requires that contractors report protected veterans in the aggregate, without specifying whether an individual belongs to one or more of the four categories of protected veterans.
The change to reporting protected veterans in the aggregate has three main benefits. First, it provides added privacy to disabled veterans. Previously, contractors had to specify on their publicly available report that a disabled veteran worked in a certain job group. Now that the new report only requires the employer to report a "protected veteran" in that job group, it is more difficult to figure out who might be a disabled veteran just by looking at the report. Second, this change will eliminate double counting of a single veteran who may meet the definition of two or more of the four categories. Finally, the VETS is predicting that the new approach will save federal contractors money, and who doesn’t like that?

The new rule also completely eliminates the VETS-100 report, which applied to contracts entered into prior to Dec. 1, 2003, because these  contracts no longer exist. In addition, the rule sets forth electronic filing requirements and amends mandatory contract clauses relating to the report. While the rule officially becomes effective Oct. 27, 2014, the practical effective date of the new rule will be the 2015 reporting period, which runs from Aug. 1st to Sept. 30th. In the meantime, contractors should be sure their self-identification forms include the new definitions and are otherwise up-to-date with the VEVRAA regulations that became effective earlier in the year.

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