The Arc Applauds Federal Government’s finalizing of Hiring Rule Focusing on People with Disabilities

Washington, DC – Earlier this week, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published regulations to finalize how federal agencies will comply with their legal obligation to be proactive in hiring individuals with disabilities. This regulation, commonly known as the 501 regulation, aims to make the federal government serve as “model employers” for individuals with disabilities. The regulation sets goals of 12 percent representation for individuals with disabilities and 2 percent for individuals with “targeted” disabilities, which include people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Current research indicates that 85% of people with I/DD are unemployed. The Arc is working with the public and private sectors to change this reality and offer opportunities for people with I/DD to obtain meaningful career opportunities alongside people without disabilities on an unprecedented scale through our employment program, TheArc@Work.

“This action is a big step towards including more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the workforce, contributing alongside their peers without disabilities. The unemployment rate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is incredibly high, and it’s going to take dramatic steps like this rule to open the eyes of employers to the skills of people with disabilities and benefits of hiring them,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

This EEOC action clarifies the obligations that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 imposes on federal agencies, as employers, that are over and above the obligation not to discriminate on the basis of disability. When the draft rule was released in 2014, The Arc submitted comments to the EEOC that drew attention to the fact that in the previous few years, there had been some modest increases in the numbers of people with disabilities employed by the federal government. But The Arc was deeply concerned that many people with the most significant disabilities, including jobseekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, were being left behind.

Data obtained by The Arc from the Office of Personnel Management revealed that in fiscal year 2012, the federal government employed only 813 non-seasonal, full time permanent employees with intellectual disability (ID), representing 0.044% of all federal employees. Only 28 people, or 3/100ths of one-percent of total new hires, were people with ID. That same year, the federal government employed only 118 part-time employees with ID. Only 17 people with ID were hired as part-time employees, about 9/100ths of one-percent of new hires.

“Throughout this process of finalizing the rule, The Arc has worked to keep the pressure on to make sure that people with I/DD aren’t left behind. We are pleased that this regulation is at its end stage, and as we move forward, we will be looking for and helping to facilitate progress in the hiring rate for people with I/DD,” said Berns.

The regulation does not apply to the private sector or to state or local governments. This final rule will be applicable on March 6, 2017. The applicability date for this final rule will be January 3, 2018.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.