EEO in Apprenticeship Final Rule—Are Sponsors Prepared for 2019 Requirements?

Updates to equal employment opportunity regulations that apply to all sponsors of apprenticeship programs registered either with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship or a state apprenticeship agency are just around the corner. The final rule updating EEO regulations was issued in 2016 by the Obama administration and went into effect on Jan. 18, 2017; however, some of the provisions were delayed for two years until Jan. 18, 2019. The deadlines are different for sponsors registered with a state government apprenticeship agency that has submitted language implementing the new EEO standards and is awaiting federal approval. To determine whether your state has its own state apprenticeship agency or is regulated directly by the federal Office of Apprenticeship, see this list.

Among other changes, the new rule requires apprenticeship program sponsors to make prescribed efforts to achieve a new goal of seven percent disabled apprentices. To meet the goal, sponsors are required to implement written affirmative action plans that provide for significant new outreach to the disabled community, invite apprentices and applicants to voluntarily identify themselves as disabled and engage in “utilization analysis” of the number of disabled apprentices. Similar affirmative action steps and utilization analyses are also required in order to meet targets for racial minorities and women in apprenticeship programs.

The final rule updates equal opportunity standards to include age (40 or older), genetic information, sexual orientation and disability among the list of protected bases upon which a sponsor must not discriminate against an apprentice or applicant for apprenticeship. This is in addition to prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin and sex. The EEO pledge in the final rule clarifies that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and gender identity. To learn more about the nondiscrimination and EEO obligations of sponsors, see the FAQs and fact sheet.

Further, as under the previous regulations, sponsors are required to maintain affirmative action programs. The final rule updates the requirements and adds AAP obligations for individuals with disabilities. To learn more about which sponsors are required to have an AAP and what needs to be in an AAP, see the FAQs and fact sheet.  

For an overview of what sponsors need to know regarding the apprenticeship EEO regulations, watch an instructional DOL video and find additional resources and tools on the DOL website.

Upcoming requirements under the final rule:

Additional requirements will go into effect on Jan. 18, 2019 for DOL OA-registered sponsors, including:

• Drafting written AAPs
• Conducting workforce analysis for race and sex
• Conducting workforce analysis for individuals with disabilities
• Conducting initial review of personnel practices
• Beginning invitations for apprentices to self-identify as having a disability at pre-offer and post-offer stages
• Disseminating one-time invitation to self-identify as having a disability for all current apprentices

Continue to monitor Newsline for more information on the final rule.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion.