The final EEOC rule on affirmative action requires each federal agency to adopt the goal of having 12 percent of its workforce be people with disabilities, and 2 percent of its workforce be people with targeted disabilities. The goals are to apply at both higher and lower salary levels.

The rule requires agencies to have written, easily available and understood reasonable accommodation procedures and a written explanation whenever a request for a reasonable accommodation is denied. It also requires agencies to have sufficient staff to answer disability-related questions from applicants and members of the public and to process requests for reasonable accommodations in the hiring process and applications under the Schedule A hiring authority for those with targeted disabilities.

It also requires agencies to inform job applicants and employees of their accessibility rights under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Architectural Barriers Act, and to explain how to file complaints under those laws.

The rule also specifies situations in which an agency is obligated to provide personal assistance services, which help with basic activities such as eating and using the restroom and which are separate from services that help the individual perform job-related tasks.

However, the rule does not require agencies to establish a preference for hiring people with disabilities, the EEOC said. Further, the EEOC will not disapprove an agency’s affirmative action plan solely because the agency has not reached the rule’s employment goals but rather will work with them to improve their hiring through steps such as training managers about Schedule A and increasing recruitment and retention efforts.

Federal job applicants and employees further will not be required to reveal any disabilities, although agencies may continue to invite them to do so if the information is to be treated confidentially and used only for affirmative action, it said.