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OFCCP Publishes Resources Related to Substance Use Disorder

By Debra Milstein Gardner - Aug 24, 2023 11:30:00 AM - 6 MINS READ

Resources are offered by the DOL, OFCCP, and EEOC to support employers’ efforts in meeting obligations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has updated its substance abuse webpage with the following substance use disorder resources to assist contractors, subcontractors, and workers comply with the regulations of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

  • Disability Inclusion Starts with You: This OFCCP video explains why voluntary self-identification is beneficial and highlights ongoing efforts to encourage greater self-identification by individuals with disabilities. 
  • Section 503 Regulations Frequently Asked Questions: This resource provides OFCCP’s frequently asked questions on Section 503. 
  • Protection and Disability Rights: This OFCCP factsheet provides individuals with information about disability rights and protection from discrimination. 
  • Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation: This OFCCP resource provides step-by-step information on how to request a reasonable accommodation. 
  • Substance Use Disorder and Work: This resource explores current studies, completed reports, programs, and policies that address substance use disorders from DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office. 
  • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity: This resource provides information on mental health and substance use disorder benefits protected by the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, as well as rights in the workplace, treatment options, guidance and more from DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Section 503 covers individuals with substance and alcohol use disorder if the individual is no longer engaged in illegal substance use and has either successfully been rehabilitated or is participating in a supervised rehabilitation program. The Americans with Disabilities Act also covers substance abuse under the same definition. To provide additional assistance to employers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has a webpage titled “Applying Performance and Conduct Standards to Employees with Disabilities.” FAQ 26 on this webpage provides guidance on whether an employer can discipline an employee who violates a workplace policy that prohibits the use of alcohol or illegal drugs in the workplace.

Additional support to employers and employees on promoting recovery-ready workplaces is available at the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Recovery-Ready Workplace Resource Hub. The webpage provides a list of policies and practices to promote recovery-ready workplaces and tools for developing a program. According to the DOL, “employers can also learn about the benefits of recovery-ready workplaces, including reducing turnover, improving productivity, reducing health care costs, expanding the labor force, and promoting overall worker well-being and recovery.”

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Creating a recovery-ready workplace program is not required under the regulations; however, it is a best practice for supporting those employees challenged with substance abuse. Since substance abuse is covered by Section 503, it is important that contractors have a compliant-ready affirmative action program. Contractors must also be using the new Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form required for employee surveys as well as completion by applicants and new hires.

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, there have been over 700,000 drug overdose deaths since 2000 and more than half of people 12 and older have used illicit drugs at least once. Of all the illegal substance abusers, 20.4% of them have an alcohol use disorder. Creating programs to assist employees and managers will not only enhance your affirmative action program but create a workplace that fosters recovery and development.

For further information or assistance in creating a Section 503 compliant affirmative action program, please contact us at info@outsolve.com or by calling 888.414.2410.

Debra Milstein Gardner

Debra Milstein Gardner has worked in the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA) space for the past 43 years while working in the public and private sectors in various human resources compliance roles. She began her career working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then went to the Marriott Corporation for nine years working in EEO, Affirmative Action and field human resource roles. In 1990, Debra founded Workplace Dynamics LLC providing EEO, AA, and DEI consulting services to government contractors. In 2016, Debra sold the affirmative action portion of Workplace Dynamics to OutSolve LLC and works part-time as a Market Analyst. Debra is a sports fanatic, routing for the Baltimore Ravens and all Virginia Tech Hokie teams. She loves to hike and boat in her mountain and lake community of Lake Lure, NC.

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