Author: Andrew Cogswell
As most employers are already aware, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) was passed in 2005 and brings with it a number of requirements for employers, related to ensuring their workplace is accessible for employees, clients, and the public at large.
Another important piece of legislation, under AODA, was passed by the Ontario government in 2011 – the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation (“IASR”). The IASR affects nearly all employers in Ontario that have at least one employee. CCPartners previously blogged on the IASR at http://www.ccpartners.ca/blog/details/the-employers-edge/2012/08/09/aoda-update-ontario-government-recently-publishes-integrated-accessibility-standards-guidelines-that-will-impact-ontario-workplaces .
The IASR has rolling deadlines for various employment and information & communication accessibility requirements, and there are important deadlines approaching for small and large private employers in the beginning of 2016.
Small Private Employers (1-49 employees)
As of January 1, 2016 small employers will be required to adhere to two important accessibility features of the IASR: training, and feedback mechanisms.
Section 7 of the IASR requires that all employees, volunteers, persons involved in developing policies, and persons providing goods/services on behalf of the organization shall be trained on this IASR and the Ontario Human Rights Code as it relates to disability.
Section 11 of the IASR states that employers with an existing process/mechanism by which employees, clients, or the public can provide feedback shall offer the process in an accessible format for people with disabilities. Organizations should have a means by which an accessibility request can be made, and notify the public that accessible formats can be arranged upon request.
**Large Private employers were required to comply with the above requirements by January 1, 2015.
Large Private Employers (50+ employees)
As of January 1, 2016 large employers will be required to adhere to three new accessibility features of the IASR: accessible formats/communication support, accommodation during recruitment, and a process for accommodation during employment.
Accessible Formats/Communication Support
Section 12 of the IASR requires that all information and communication be arranged for and provided in an accessible format upon request. This requires that employers set up a process by which requests can be made.
Accommodation During Recruitment Sections 22-24 of the IASR states that potential and successful applicants must be informed that accommodations are available upon request related to any material or process during recruitment, assessment, and selection. As well, large employers are required to consult with the applicant to arrange for a suitable accommodation.
Accommodation During Employment The IASR requires that employers take the following steps with respect to existing and new employees:
- Inform employees of existing policies (and changes to policies) used to support employees with disabilities
- Provide job and workplace related information in an accessible format
- Develop a process for creating individual accommodation plans and return to work plans
- Ensure that the accessibility needs of employees are taken into account when considering performance management, career development/advancement, and redeployment
Prior to the above deadlines for small and large employers, the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure has announced targeted AODA audits this fall. The blitz will be directed at retail companies with 500 or more employees and focused on, but not limited to, requirements of creating a public multi-year accessibility plan, and developing customized emergency plans for employees with disabilities.
It’s expected that these compliance audits will continue as new requirements are continually rolled out under AODA and its regulations. CCPartners will ensure that employers have up to date knowledge on the latest requirements and compliance audits. If you are an employer that needs assistance with understanding or complying with your AODA obligations, contact one of our lawyers.
Please Note: This blog has been prepared as an informational service for our clients and other interested parties. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, a complete statement of the law or opinion on any subject. Although we endeavour to ensure the accuracy of the content, no one should act upon the information provided without a thorough examination of the law after the facts of a specific situation are fully considered.