Last week the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued final regulations pertaining to a special hiring authority for the appointment of persons with certain disabilities. The final rule for “Excepted Service – Appointment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Severe Physical Disabilities, and Psychiatric Disabilities,” also known as “Schedule A Hiring Authority,” simplifies the hiring process for job applicants with disabilities who have work, educational, or other relevant experience, by relieving them of the burden of procuring “certificates of readiness” as a condition of appointment. The new regulations are consistent with the President’s policy of removing barriers and encouraging the employment of individuals with disabilities in the federal workforce, as expressed in Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals With Disabilities.
“We deliver the best results to the American people when we include all parts of our society in our workforce, and take full advantage of their skills and perspectives,” said OPM Director, John Berry. “It’s important to recruit, hire, develop and retain a competitive and diverse workforce, so that we tap the potential of all groups – including Americans with disabilities.”
Previously, an individual with a disability who wished to be appointed under the Schedule A authority was required not only to establish that he or she had a qualifying disability but also to submit a “certification of job readiness,” essentially a formal written assessment, by a medical professional, vocational rehabilitation specialist, or disability benefit agency, that the applicant could reasonably be expected to perform in a particular work environment. This final rule removes the requirement for a certification of job readiness. Now an applicant will only need to establish that he or she has a qualifying disability.
Schedule A Hiring Authority for persons with disabilities is one of the tools the federal government uses to accomplish the goals of Executive Order 13548. In FY 2011, people with disabilities represented 7.96 percent of all new hires. When veterans who are 30 percent or more disabled are included, people with disabilities represent 14.7 percent of all new hires or 18,738 people.
posted by Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, www.sheriabrams.com