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There are two types of hiring processes. In the non-competitive hiring process, agencies use a special authority (Schedule A) to hire persons with disabilities without requiring them to compete for the job. In the competitive process, applicants compete with each other through a structured process.
Advice to increase hiring and retention of employees with disabilities.
Excepted service appointing authorities are critical tools for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Federal Government.
During the interview process, the hiring official should ask an applicant questions about your job qualifications and how the applicant would perform the essential functions of the job. Applicants are encouraged to present their qualifications in a positive manner which emphasizes abilities and assets. Sometimes an applicant will choose to anticipate and address job related questions about ways his or her disability may affect performance of critical duties, roles and responsibilities of the job.
Hiring officials are prohibited from asking questions about an applicant's disability unless the questions are related to functioning on the job and consistent with the business needs of the position. To review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidance about questions agencies can ask about an applicant's disability, please see the Enforcement Guidance: Pre-employment Disability-Related Questions and Medical Examinations.
Basic steps to increase hiring:
Excepted service appointing authorities are critical tools for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Federal Government. Two of these authorities are particularly relevant:
OPM has developed Bite Size Training on Using Schedule A Training to Hire People with Disabilities. This 5-minute training provides managers and HR staff with an helpful overview of what they need to know to hire people with disabilities using Schedule A.
In order to be eligible for employment through the Schedule A non-competitive process, documentation of the disability is required. Such documentation is used to verify that the individual being hired is indeed a person with an intellectual disability, severe physical disability, or psychiatric disability. This documentation must be provided to the hiring agency before an individual can be hired. Documentation of eligibility for employment under Schedule A can be obtained from a licensed medical professional (e.g., a physician or other medical professional certified by a state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory to practice medicine); a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (i.e., state or private); or any Federal agency, state agency, or agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits.
In addition, upon hiring, the individual with a disability or the agency Human Resource office should complete the Standard Form 256. The SF-256 includes the legal definition of disability and lists various disabilities, including several that are considered targeted disabilities.
Applicants and employees with disabilities may also use the SF-256 to voluntarily identify their particular disability for data collection purposes only, even if they are not seeking to establish eligibility under Schedule A. Data captured from the SF-526 is used to compile the disability demographics of Federal agencies. This data is crucial for agencies to determine how well or poorly they are achieving their disability hiring goals.
OPM recently updated SF-256 to better reflect current definitional language with respect to the disability community. OPM also created a Bridge Document that details the differences between the updated SF 256 and the form previously used by OPM.
Agencies should begin using the updated SF-256 now, if they have not already done so.
These 5-minute training videos provide an overview of the process of hiring people with disabilities using Schedule A.
Guides to Schedule A created by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission