Below is a recent report from the Congressional Research Service on Disability Employment in the Federal Government.
Congress and various offices of the President recognize the need to strengthen and improve federal agencies’ efforts to recruit, employ, and retain persons with disabilities. It is the recruitment, employment, and retention processes of people with disabilities that affect their ability to meet this need that can differ significantly from those of people without disabilities.
More broadly, Congress and recently the Office of the President have also expressed interest in improving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) in the federal civil service. The federal government’s efforts to increase employment of people with disabilities can be seen as aligned with these broader goals of his DEIA. In 2021, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14035. This underlines the administration’s focus on increasing his DEIA in the federal workforce.
Under federal law, a disabled individual is one who (1) has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) be deemed to have such impairment. Covered disabilities are subgroups of legally defined disabilities, including: developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury, deafness or significant hearing loss, blindness, amputation, significant motor impairment, paralysis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, intellectual disability, severe mental disability, and dwarfism. , or serious cosmetic damage. The federal government uses the SF-256 Disability Self-Identification Form to collect disability information for federal employees and federal employee applicants.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has established guidance and recruitment strategies to increase employment of people with disabilities by federal agencies, which can be accessed at the OPM website. For example, the OPM website includes information about resources such as the Chief Human Capital Officer’s Disability Sharing List, Selective Placement Program Coordinators, and specific strategies for recruiting students with disabilities. .
In some cases, federal agencies may use exceptional service appointment agencies in place of competitive hiring processes. Exceptional appointed agencies, called Schedule A, may streamline the hiring process for people with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has established guidance for federal agencies regarding the use of Schedule A to employ people with disabilities.
Despite efforts to increase employment of persons with disabilities, the retention rate of disabled employees is significantly lower than that of non-disabled employees. According to OPM, disabled employees leave the federal government at about three times the rate of non-disabled employees. The OPM outlines a number of strategies for improving retention of employees with disabilities, including workplace flexibility and provision of reasonable accommodation.
On January 3, 2017, the EEOC issued final rules amending the rules relating to Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93-112). Among other items, this rule sets goals for federal agencies to: (1) 12% representation of persons with disabilities; and (2) 2% representation of persons with covered disabilities. In practice, these benchmarks are also used as recruitment targets. In October 2003, the EEOC issued Management Directive 715 (MD-715). This directive requires federal agencies to evaluate their own efforts to establish and maintain ongoing programs of equal employment opportunity and to submit annual reports to the EEOC demonstrating and identifying these efforts. is requesting improvement area. According to the EEOC, from fiscal year 2014 to 2018, he exceeded the federal sector’s disability employment target of 12% in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, but not in his next three years (2016-2018). not. Only in fiscal 2018, we achieved a 2% target for hiring people with disabilities. Additionally, from FY 2014 to FY 2018, persons with disabilities and persons with covered disabilities were more likely than persons without disabilities to voluntarily or involuntarily leave federal employment.
Congress may wish to consider topics related to the recruitment, employment, and retention of persons with disabilities and eligible persons with disabilities in federal agencies. These topics may offer opportunities for congressional oversight and legislative action. (2) EEOC’s Final Rule on Disability and Covered Affirmative Action for Persons with Disabilities in Federal Employment; and (3) Federal Agency Retention Rates for Employees with Disabilities.
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