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Press Release 03-20-2024

EEOC Releases Two Reports on the Federal Workforce and Disabilities

Programs to Hire and Aid Federal Workers With Disabilities May Be Little Known and Underused

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released two reports on people with disabilities in the federal workforce.

Promising Practices for Using Schedule A to Recruit, Hire, Advance, and Retain Persons with Disabilities” examined how agencies use Schedule A hiring authority to appoint job applicants with certain disabilities to federal positions outside the competitive hiring process. In addition, “The Impact of Telework on Personal Assistance Services,” highlighted the program which helps current workers with targeted disabilities—such as deafness and paralysis—perform major life activities during work hours, such as eating and caring for themselves.

Hiring under Schedule A requires the job applicant to have a documented disability, which includes a broad list of intellectual, severe physical, or psychiatric disabilities. The EEOC provides a guide for employers, service providers, and candidates on how to use Schedule A.

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against job applicants and employees based on disability. Under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act and EEOC regulations, agencies must ensure that at least 12% of workers are persons with disabilities (PWD) and at least 2% of workers are persons with targeted disabilities (PWTD). Although participation rates have improved in recent years, they remain below the EEOC’s hiring goals. According to the EEOC’s FY 2020 Annual Report on the Federal Workforce, PWD participation rates increased from 8.70% in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 9.45% in FY 2020. For PWTD, participation rates increased from 1.01% in FY 2016 to 1.84% in FY 2020.

“The EEOC and the Administration are focused on advancing equity for employees with disabilities and ensuring that the federal government is a model employer for persons with disabilities,” said Dexter Brooks, associate director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. “This report is part of our efforts under Executive Order 14035 to provide technical assistance and support the use of the Schedule A hiring authority. Agencies can use the listed promising practices to help increase employment of persons with disabilities.”

The EEOC’s report on telework and the Personal Assistance Services (PAS) programs at 71 federal agencies highlighted how successfully agencies adapted their PAS programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and removed barriers to employment in accordance with Section 501.

Typically, PAS programs are provided in person, and most agencies reported that pandemic telework did not affect the ability to deliver PAS accommodations. An amendment to the Rehabilitation Act required all agencies to implement procedures for PAS by January 3, 2018.

“PAS programs provide essential help to federal employees with targeted disabilities that allows them to continue being effective at work,” Brooks said. “Improving the funding and staffing of federal PAS programs may help promote a more diverse federal workforce and offer employees with disabilities equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment.”

The EEOC prevents and remedies unlawful employment discrimination and advances equal opportunity for all. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.