What is Schedule A?
The Schedule A hiring authority for people with disabilities is an exception to the traditional hiring process.
Schedule A is a non-competitive hiring authority that allows federal agencies to forgo the typical application process and hire individuals with disabilities directly into the workforce. Employees hired under the Schedule A hiring authority receive an excepted service appointment to a position that is otherwise in the competitive service. Schedule A appointment has the potential to be converted to a career conditional appointment.
Who is Eligible for Schedule A?
According to federal law, individuals may apply using the Schedule A hiring authority if they have “an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability (with or without the need of reasonable accommodations).” While there is no rubric to determine which disabilities meet this requirement, it is required for candidates to provide proof of disability documentation from a doctor; a licensed medical professional; a licensed rehabilitation professional; or any federal, state, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory agency that issues or provides disability benefits. It is the certifying individual’s responsibility to carefully consider and determine if the applicant’s disability constitutes a severe physical disability, intellectual disability, or psychiatric disability.
All targeted disabilities are eligible for Schedule A. Targeted disabilities are those listed in part 1 of the Standard Form 256.
Individuals may apply using the Schedule A hiring authority if they have an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability (with or without the need of reasonable accommodations). It is required for candidates to provide proof of disability documentation from their doctor; a licensed medical professional; a licensed rehabilitation professional; or any federal, state, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory agency that issues or provides disability benefits.
Why Use Schedule A?
Schedule A is an effective hiring tool for hiring managers. It allows hiring managers to streamline the hiring process by accessing a pool of highly skilled, pre-screened, and available candidates while avoiding the lengthy process of creating and filling a competitive vacancy.
Using the Schedule A appointing authority, found at 5 CFR § 213.3102(u), qualified candidates who meet the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) guidelines can be hired non-competitively:
- without the typical recruitment process
- without posting and publicizing the vacancy announcement
- without going through the certificate process
How to Hire Using Schedule A
Hiring managers should first contact their servicing human resources specialist or the agency special placement program coordinator (SPPC), and inform them that they would like to fill a position using Schedule A.
The manager should alert the SPPC of the job opening and should also explain what competencies the ideal candidate should possess, thinking critically about the essential functions of the position.
If the manager already has a specific Schedule A eligible candidate in mind for the position, he or she may forward that candidate to the SPPC to verify that the candidate meets Schedule A eligibility requirements.
The SPPC keeps a cadre of Schedule A eligible candidates on stand-by (this can take the form of a “resume bank” or “Schedule A Registry,” and should include people with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to succeed in the major occupations of the agency), so that they can assist busy hiring managers to very quickly fill job openings.
After consulting his or her resources and resume banks, the SPPC will present the manager with potential Schedule A applicants who have already been determined to meet the qualifications for the position. The number of candidates presented to the manager will vary greatly, depending on the level of specialty required by the job.
The hiring official can now review the resumes and references of the applicants, conduct interviews, etc., and then make a selection. Resume and reference reviews should be thorough to accurately assess job readiness.
The selection decision, once made, should be relayed to the SPPC. If the hiring official is not satisfied with any of the Schedule A applicants, he or she retains the option of using the traditional competitive process to fill the vacancy.
Once an offer has been extended to a Schedule A candidate and accepted, a start date may be established to bring the candidate on board. This requires additional coordination with the SPPC or your servicing HR specialist to ensure that any required accommodation needed is in place on your new employee’s first day.