The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is implementing a 14-day extension of the comment period for its proposed rule to amend regulations executing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires most federal contractors and subcontractors to ensure equal employment opportunity for qualified disabled workers.

On Dec. 9, 2011, OFCCP announced a notice of proposed rulemaking in 76 Federal Register 77056 with a comment period that was scheduled to end Feb. 7, 2012, but after examining requests for an extension, OFCCP prolonged the comment period by 14 days until Tuesday, Feb. 21. The extension is expected to provide additional time for interested parties to evaluate the issues noted in the proposal and submit their comments. Among individuals and organizations that already offered comments, they may use this time to modify their original comments.

The rule, which was proposed by OFCCP, is expected to strengthen the affirmative action and reporting obligations of federal contractors by mandating that they set a hiring goal of employing 7 percent of their work force as qualified disabled workers. The proposed amendments also outline required actions contractors would have to take in recruitment, training, record-keeping and dissemination of affirmative action policies. Additionally, the rule would clarify OFCCP's standards of contractors by specifying guidelines on how to comply with the law.

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