Getting rid of discrimination in the workplace has always been a priority for the United States government, and, today, it’s no different. According to federal regulation, over time, a federal contractor’s employees should mirror the gender, racial and ethnic profile of its applicants. To ensure this happens, all contractors doing business with the United States government who meet certain employment and contract levels are required to have an affirmative action plans, which are guidelines that instruct companies to actively pursue employees, vendors and contractors who are from minority groups.

In short, an affirmative action plan is to serve as a guide to eliminate underrepresentation in the workforce and be used by managers as a tool to create equal employment opportunities; they contain analytical methods that include measurable inquiries aimed to gauge the structure of the contractor’s workforce and compare it to the configuration of the appropriate labor pools. Affirmative action plans also include specific steps that companies can take, if women and minorities are not being employed at the expected rate, to address the underemployment of these demographics.

In addition, effective affirmative action plans also include internal auditing and reporting procedures as a way to measure the contractor’s development toward attaining a reflective workforce that is absent of discrimination during the hiring process.

Who Needs an Affirmative Action Plan?

While companies and organizations may voluntarily produce an affirmative action plan for internal, political or other reasons that don’t include those from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the only companies that are required by law to have an updated written affirmative action plan in place are federal contractors or subcontractors–banks, universities, medical centers or hospitals, defense contractors and companies leasing property to the government–who:

  • Have 50 or more workers
  • Have bills of lading from the government that total at least $50,000 in any given 12 consecutive months
  • Serve as a depository for any amount of government funds
  • Are financial institutions that are paying or issuing agent for notes of any amount or U.S. Savings Bonds

Maintaining Compliance

Companies who want to maintain compliant can seek direction from The Standard Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Construction Contract Specifications that not only depict the responsibilities of affirmative action but also stipulate the steps that construction contractors are required to carry out in order to show intention reaching the goals for female and minority participation.

These responsibilities and steps include but are not limited to:

  • Providing a workplace environment that is free of coercion, intimidation and harassment
  • Assigning at least two women to every construction project when possible
  • Maintaining a file containing the current names, addresses and phone numbers for every female and minority applicant and all actions taken with each person
  • Developing programs relevant to the needs of the contractor, such as opportunities for on-the-job training and training program participation in areas that specifically include women and minorities
  • The contractor’s affirmative action plan obligations and EEO policy must be reviewed at least once a year by on-site supervisory personnel all employees who have responsibilities that include assigning, hiring, termination, layoff or any other employment-related decisions before work begins on job sites
  • Encourage current female and minority employees to recruit other women and minorities and provide vacation, summer and after-school employment to female and minority when possible
  • All female and minority personnel should be assessed at least once per year for promotion opportunities
  • A performance review of affirmative action obligations and the contractor’s EEO policies for all supervisors should be conducted at least once a year

What is the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)?

In addition to The Standard Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Construction Contract Specifications, companies get guidance from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which is responsible for imposing affirmative action plans and randomly selects federal contractors and subcontractors who are required to have an affirmative action plan every year to be audited.

Much like the way the IRS conducts audits, the OFCCP hires workers to perform compliance evaluations and then notifies contractors of their selection by sending them scheduling letters. The OFCCP might also request a copy of the contractor’s written affirmative action plan and other data that needs to be reviewed during the audit.

Let Lincoln Tyler Create Your Affirmative Action Plan

Affirmative action plans are multifaceted and take time to create. According to the OFCCP, an average of almost 200 hours are required for contractors to create, maintain and annually update their affirmative action plans. This amount can double for contractors that have more than 500 employees. And, neither amount includes the hours spent on third-party disclosures and scheduling letters.

If you need help with your affirmative action plan or are uncertain if affirmative action laws apply to you, our experience staff at Lincoln Tyler can provide you general guidance on the applicability of the regulations to your business and/or provide a solution that fits your needs.

Get an Affirmative Action Plan