The United States Department of Labor recently released a video encouraging applicants and employees to voluntarily self-identify their disability. DOL maintains that self-identifying plays an integral role in protecting equal employment opportunity.

Revealing a Disability – Risky Business?

Self-identification can seem like a risk, and many will not feel compelled to acquiesce. The reality is new pressures on government contractors to hire more disabled workers and veterans mean self-identifying a disability is to everyone’s benefit. The new self-identification form for federal workers with disabilities was designed to help federal contractors and subcontractors meet the Section 503 requirements. Self-identification helps federal contractors ensure they are meeting the 7% target.

But it’s not all about the employer. Self-identification benefits those with disabilities, too. If you hide a disability, it’s impossible for the employer to make any accommodations that can benefit productivity or comfort. The disclosure form provides a launchpad for helpful conversations.

When contractors have a better sense of whether or not they are with meeting the 7% requirement, they can implement a proactive approach to hiring more employees with disabilities. They can also work to retain current employees with disabilities. The 503 Requirement encourages federal contractors to diversify their talent pool and better engage employees. A more diverse workforce is a better reflection of the customer base. The voluntary self-identification form can be an opportunity for both the employer and employee.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.