Don’t miss the EEOC’s March 31 data deadline

close up of the hand of a person in a suit holding a pen while reviewing documents

It may have been off everyone’s radar for awhile, but the EEO-1 report is back. And it’s due by the end of March.

As reported in 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced final changes to amend the annual EEO-1 report. These changes would have required employers to report pay data in addition to the traditionally reported data. The submission deadline was extended to accommodate the new information requirement. However, the pay data collection provisions on the revised EEO-1 were suspended indefinitely as of August 2017. (Employers everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.)

It’s time to catch up, though. Although the pay data requirement was suspended, the delayed submission deadline — March 31, 2018 — was retained, meaning employers have not had to submit EEO-1 data since September 30, 2016. Moving forward, March 31 is the deadline for submitting the previous year’s data.

Remind me…why is this report so important?

The EEO-1 report is a compliance survey mandated by regulations enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII requires most private employers with more than 100 employees to file the annual report, which categorizes employment data on race/ethnicity and gender by job category. The reported information is also available to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which pursuant to Executive Order 11246, mandates the same reporting by federal contractors with more than 50 employees.

What’s my first step?

Confirm whether your organization must meet this EEO-1 filing requirement. Many smaller organizations may not be familiar with this requirement. When determining an employer’s size, all companies under common control must be taken into consideration. Neglecting to file could put your organization at risk for penalties, agency enforcement, loss of a federal contract, and even imprisonment if misrepresentation is present. More information on which employers are required to file annual EEO-1 reports may be found here.

Are my jobs aligned with EEOC guidelines?

Your second step should be to ensure that all jobs are correctly classified according to the EEOC Guidelines, which break various positions into several distinct classes:

  • Executive/senior officers
  • First/mid-level officers
  • Professionals
  • Technicians, sales workers
  • Administrative support workers
  • Craft workers
  • Operatives
  • Laborers and helpers
  • Service workers

It’s important to review these guidelines against your employee population to ensure that you are reporting individuals in the correct class. Not sure where a particular job fits? Ask legal counsel to assist with the determination.

Does HR already have this employee information?

Your third step should be to confirm that you have demographic data for all employees documented, including race/ethnicity and gender. However, this information request should not be a part of the employment application, as it could suggest discriminatory hiring practices. Best practice advises the use of a separate, voluntary self-identification form. (See samples here.) Many employers will provide this as an optional form following the employment application, and once completed (or declined) it should be kept separate from other employment files.

What if an employee chooses not to self-identify?

Although employees are not required to disclose this information, the EEOC still requires you to include it in your report. How do you accomplish that without employee input? Here’s where step four comes in: Simply by seeing and knowing your employee. Employers may visually identify the race/ethnicity of the employee — in other words, take a look and guess, based on the available information.

Where can I find more guidance?

Once you’ve gathered the necessary information, you’re ready to complete the report. The EEOC issued a how-to guide in 2017, which can be found here, along with a detailed user’s guide with screenshots that can be found here. Contact the EEOC directly via the information on their website if you have further questions.

March 31 is approaching, so prepping now is the key to complying with this important federal requirement.

About Sara Ritter

Sara Ritter, M.A, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a Senior Human Resources Consultant with the Willis Human Capital Practice. Sar…
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