For the last year, large organizations and companies in Ontario have been working to implement workplace accommodation changes to meet new requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Now, it’s the smaller organizations turn (less than 50 employees) and the deadline is rapidly approaching. By January 1, 2017, all employers must comply with the new AODA employment standards.
What are these changes?
The new employment standards add to existing obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code in order to more fully accommodate employees with disabilities. It shifts the onus from the individual to the employer ensuring that barriers hindering the full participation in employment of persons with disabilities are identified, removed and prevented. It asks employers to review all of their recruitment, career development and performance management policies to provide consideration and accommodation for people with disabilities.
Some highlights of the changes to the employment standard are in the areas of recruitment, information to employees regarding accommodations, performance management, career development and ongoing communication with employees with disabilities.
For the specific changes to the legislation, please visit the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act website.
What is Required of Small Employers?
Employers must notify their employees and the public about the availability of accommodations for job applicants with disabilities. During the recruitment process, employers must notify job applicants when they are selected during the assessment or selection process that accommodations are available upon request.
Employers must inform employees about their policies relating to support of employees with disabilities, including policies on job accommodations that take into account an employee’s accessibility needs due to disability.
Performance Management, Career Development, Advancement and Redeployment
Employers who provide performance management, career development, advancement and/or redeployment to their employees must take into account the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities as well as individual accommodation plans.
Employers must provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for information that is needed in order for the employee to perform their job, and for information that is generally available to employees in the workplace.
Workplace Emergency Response Information
Employers must provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for such accommodation.
What Else Can You Do?
Here are a few more suggestions to help you get ready for January 1, 2017, and to ensure that your workplace continues to be compliant with AODA.
- Develop a multiyear plan on accessibility and accommodation.
- Review all existing practices and to ensure they comply with the employment standards under the AODA.
- Understand how to better support your employees with disabilities and develop a process to create individual accommodation plans.
- Advise all your employees of policies that can support employees with disabilities.
To stay up to date on legislative and other changes to the Ontario employment market, contact the team at Employment Professionals Canada. As Ontario’s leading staffing and HR expert, we can help your company navigate the market changes. Contact us today to learn more!