On February 16, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Andrew Puzder to be the Secretary of Labor. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for the implementation of federal labor and employment laws, including those relating to wages and hours. Additionally, it includes the Office of Disability Employment Policy which is a non-regulatory agency that promotes employment of people with disabilities. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration has released a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on the “integrated location” criteria of the definition of “competitive integrated employment” under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The setting must be “typically found in the community” and “Where the employee with a disability interacts, for the purpose of performing the duties of the position, with other employees within the particular work unit and the entire work site, and, as appropriate to the work performed, other persons (e.g., customers and vendors) who are not individuals with disabilities (not including supervisory personnel or individuals who are providing services to such employee) to the same extent that employees who are not individuals with disabilities and who are in comparable positions interact with these persons.” The document also provides further clarifications of the definition.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule to amend the regulations that require federal agencies to engage in affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. These changes clarify the obligations that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 imposes on federal agencies as employers that are over and above the obligation to not discriminate on the basis of disability. The regulation does not apply to the private sector or to state or local governments. This final rule will be effective on March 6, 2017.
The Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures, National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities released their joint final report, “Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.” This report contains many recommendations that are relevant to the work that states are currently undertaking to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities and to revamp work related systems and programs.
The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) delivered its final report to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on September 15, 2016. The ACICIEID, created by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, was charged with developing recommendations to improve the employment participation rate of individuals with disabilities, including those with the most severe disabilities. The Arc provided testimony to the ACICIEID on several occasions. The ACICIEID’s recommendations center around overall capacity building, capacity building for youth, changes in the use and oversight of Section 14(c) certificates, building capacity in the marketplace, building capacity in federal agencies, and increasing competitive employment in the AbilityOne program. The report was also delivered to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The RSA has announced three regional meetings to provide technical assistance on program specific requirements in programs established under that Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as reauthorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The meetings will be held on August 9th in Washington DC, September 7th in Chicago IL, and September 27th in Sacramento CA. These meeting are expected to be held in conjunction with the release of its new regulations. Specific topics to be addressed include changes to competitive integrated employment, employment outcomes, limits on the use of subminimum wage, transition services, supported employment, and fiscal requirements.
The DOL released the much anticipated final Overtime rule on May 18, 2016, with an effective date of December 1, 2016. Along with the rule, DOL announced a non-enforcement policy for providers of Medicaid-funded services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in residential homes and facilities with 15 or fewer beds. The full policy will be published in the Federal Register on May 23, 2016.
The non-enforcement policy will be in effect from December 1, 2016 (when the final rule goes into effect,) until March, 2019. This non-enforcement timeframe is intended to align with the implementation timeline of the Home and Community Based Settings final rule. This will allow Medicaid Home and Community Based Services providers who qualify to prepare for the implementation.
The Arc staff is in the midst of analyzing the rule and the non-enforcement policy more closely. The Arc staff anticipates, based on its review and the thoughtful questions received from chapters, seeking some further clarification from DOL in the very near future.
DOL has also released several documents for non-profits includingguidance and a shorter fact sheet. Additional resources can be found on DOL’swebsite. DOL will also be hosting several webinars to provide additional information: register here.
On Monday, May 9, the EEOC released a publication detailing employer obligations with respect to leave under the ADA. Topics addressed include equal access to leave, leave as a reasonable accommodation, maximum leave policies, return to work and reasonable accommodation, and undue hardship. This publication provides places existing guidance in one centralized location.
Last Wednesday and Thursday, April 27 and 28, the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (the committee), held their bi-monthly meeting in Washington DC. The committee is mandated by section 609 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by section 461 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The purpose of the committee is to prepare a report for the Secretary of Labor on: ways to increase employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities or other individuals with significant disabilities in competitive integrated employment; use of 14(c) certificates; and how to improve the oversight of such certificates. The committee’s final report is due to the Secretary of Labor in September, 2016. The Arc provided testimony at the most recent meeting, and provided The Arc’s position statement on employment for context.
On March 18, the AbilityOne Commission issued a declaration in support of minimum wage for all people who are blind or who have significant disabilities. Excerpts from the declaration state: “The U.S. AbilityOne Commission®, which oversees the AbilityOne® Program, recognizes there are strongly held positions about paying special minimum wages to people with disabilities under Sec.14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. … Our call to action is for all qualified nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program to commit to, and begin (if not maintain), paying at least the Federal minimum wage, or state minimum wage if higher, to all employees who are blind or have significant disabilities working on AbilityOne contracts. Our ultimate goal is to foster the development and implementation of training and employment best practices that allow employees with disabilities to be compensated at the prevailing wage paid to all other employees working on AbilityOne contracts. In making this declaration, the Commission recognizes that Federal policies have changed since the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act was passed into law in 1971. Today, the Commission and our society have higher expectations that, through increased emphasis on technology, rehabilitation engineering and other supports, people with disabilities will be able to participate as fully capable and productive workers. To remain viable, the AbilityOne Program must be recognized as effectively offering quality employment and equitable wages, including competitive integrated employment opportunities.”