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UPDATE: 501 Final Rule

 

As of January 3, 2018, federal agencies are required to change policies to comply with new amendments to Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. This Final Rule dictates that federal agencies must develop affirmative action plans with the goal of increasing employment and advancement opportunities of individuals with disabilities. This Rule also dictates that federal agencies must provide Personal Assistance Services (PAS) for employees with targeted disabilities as listed on the Office of Personnel Management’s SF-256 Self-Identification of Disability Form.

Federal agencies are required to implement an Affirmative Action Plan focused on the hiring and progression of individuals with disabilities. The goal is to employ 12% of individuals with disabilities at the GS-11 level and above, and 12% at the GS-10 level and below. This goal also includes a 2% employment rate of individuals with targeted disabilities, which are a specific set of disabilities listed as such on SF-256.

Under this Final Rule, agencies must also keep track of several variables. These include the number of applications received from individuals who self-identify as having a disability, as well as the number of these applicants who are hired. Agencies must also record the number of employees appointed via Schedule A and any requests for reasonable accommodations. The EEOC may ask for this information at any time.

Federal agencies must have written and accessible procedures for applicants and employees to request reasonable accommodations. These written instructions must be available on each agency’s public website.

The Rule also requires federal agencies to provide PAS to employees who need these services in order to become or remain successfully employed. However, if providing PAS or any other request for accommodations would cause an agency undue hardship, it is permissible to deny this request. In the event of an agency denying accommodations, the agency must provide the applicant or employee with a written explanation including the reason for the denial, a route for appealing the decision, and instructions on how to file a complaint with that agency’s EEO Counselor. The applicant or employee must also be notified that the complaint or appeal must be made within 45 days of receiving this explanation.

 

For more information regarding the 501 Final Rule, please view this blog post by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). https://askjan.org/blog/?p=974