Business owners should incorporate workplace equality into an organization's foundation to establish a healthy working environment and contribute to overall success. An Affirmative Action Plan's purpose is to improve opportunities and promote social equality for historically excluded societal groups. Some companies are required to develop Affirmative Action programs, while others voluntarily engage.
Are you required to develop an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)? Three separate laws require employers conducting business with the federal government to implement Affirmative Action programs. The Affirmative Action consultants at Employers Council can prepare your AAP for you, update your current AAP and assist you with Office of Federal Compliance Program audits. We also provide resources to help you develop your own plan and answer any questions you have around Affirmative Action planning.
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What is Affirmative Action?
Affirmative Action policies are implemented to help level the playing field for socioeconomic groups that have been discriminated against in the past on the basis of race, color, gender, age, disability and if they are a covered veteran. Employers who work with federal contractors or subcontractors must comply with Affirmative Action laws and incorporate them into their written personnel policies, and also train current and future employees on these practices.
The goal of an Affirmative Action plan is to promote equality and diversity in the workplace. By overseeing your involvement with each socioeconomic group, you establish consistency and avoid discriminative violations.
Who Is Required to Have an Affirmative Action Plan?
Businesses who work with the federal government are required by a series of laws to implement certain employment policies into their organization. These policies pertain to equal opportunities in employment, education and business matters, and apply to any company office location.
Employers who are contractors (or subcontractors) of the federal government who have at least 50 employees and:
- have a single federal government contract or subcontract of at least $50,000 in any 12-month period,
- function as a depository for any amount of government funds,
- or are financial institutions paying or issuing agent for U.S. Savings Bonds and Savings Notes in any amount
are required to have an Affirmative Action Plan. Many employers do not choose to establish an AAP unless they are required to do so because they are so complex to create.
Contractors can be defined as a bank, university, hospital, or defense, along with businesses leasing property to the government.
AAPs are kept on file and updated annually, and the Office of Federal Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces the laws and regulations. The OFCCP audits government contractors and subcontractors to enforce compliance, and may impose penalties on employers who do not comply or have an inadequate AAP.
What Are the Penalties of Not Being Compliant?
The OFCCP randomly selects federally contracted or subcontracted employers for audits. If a company violates the AAP, the OFCCP will issue compliance evaluation closure letters or conciliation agreements. If, after the term of the conciliation agreement ends, a business has not corrected its violations, they can lose their government contract, be banned from future contracting or be ordered to financially compensate the victims of discrimination.
It is essential to annually review and refine your AAP once it is established to avoid OFCCP penalties.
What Is the Difference Between an Affirmative Action Plan and Equal Employment Opportunity?
The AAP and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) were both created to reduce discrimination in the workplace. The EEO requires that employers evaluate all job applicants and treat new hires equally – without discriminating against their race, gender, religion or disabilities. The AAP, on the other hand, is a proactive method for employers to seek out members of historically excluded groups. While both of these regulations promote equality, the AAP more directly supports workplace diversity.
The EEO is enforced in all workplaces over 15 people across the country, while the AAP only applies to specific companies. Employers typically implement an AAP to remedy the results of prior discrimination or to prevent it in the future.
How Employers Council Can Help
Affirmative Action laws can get very complicated – the attorneys at Employers Council are available to provide Affirmative Action consulting in order to protect all of your employees and your business.
AAP – If you are uncertain if your business requires an AAP policy, our Affirmative Action Plan consultants can guide you on its applicability. If you do qualify, our consultants can build you a policy and help with implementation, including employee training and instance consulting.
OFCCP – The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs enforces Affirmative Action plans for qualified companies. If you are randomly selected for an audit, you want to be prepared. Employers Council can ensure that you have the necessary data to pass an OFCCP audit.
Compliance Programs - We promote Affirmative Action compliance and annually update policies to ensure they are legal. We can review your policy at any time – our experts are up to date on necessary AAP components and legalities.
Developing Your OwnPlan – If you are interested in building out your own AAP, we are available to guide you through the process. We want your policy to be action-oriented and contain practical steps your workforce can abide by, along with a map for internal reporting and auditing.
General Assistance – We want your organization to succeed and promote equality throughout. An AAP allows all employees to have an equal opportunity for hiring, advancement, and all other aspects to the employment cycle. If you have any questions about what an AAP consists of, how to create one, or how to train your employees on it, don't hesitate to contact the consultants at Employers Council.