After release of the new VETS-4212 report requirements, federal contractors were instructed through OFCCP FAQs that they were not required to request individual protected veteran categories in their post-offer self-ID invitations. The OFCCP explained that the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) requirement to collect this information is tied to the reporting obligations of 41 CFR 61-300.1. Because only the aggregated data is required on the VETS-4212, contractors need not collect individual category data. The FAQs specified that contractors were not prohibited from continuing to collect the specific categories, however, leaving contractors with the choice to either solely ask if a new hire is a protected veteran or to additionally include a request that new hires specify the category of protected veteran they fall under.
DCI recommends contractors consider collecting additional category information for practical reasons. For instance, members of the contractor community have shared that by collecting discharge date, they are better able to identify recently separated veterans and to remove those individuals from the protected veteran class after the 3 year timeframe has passed. This results in accurate data maintenance, employment tracking, and annual reporting for the VETS-4212.
Important to note here is that a recently separated veteran may also be covered under another category, so they should not be automatically removed 3 years post-discharge, unless that is the only category to which they belong. Providing new hires the ability to identify under each of the protected veteran categories is one method to avoid unnecessary removal from the protected class. DCI also recommends surveying the workforce periodically, allowing employees to update their status. This method is best used in conjunction with collection of discharge date to avoid relying solely on self-ID.
The take-away here is that to best capture your rates of protected veteran hires and employment figures, you must first ensure you are able to effectively identify protected veterans. In many cases, the best way to do so, is to collect data on the individual protected veteran categories to increase data accuracy. The other option is to ask the general protected veteran status question, but have a second question that says “If the only category for which you are protected is newly separated, please provide your discharge date.” These two options will ensure compliance with both VEVRAA and VETS-4212.
By Jana Garman, Consultant at DCI Consulting Group