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AODA — Is your workplace keeping up with its obligations?

The AODA mandates the creation of accessibility standards requiring organizations to improve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in the areas of customer service, information and communications, employment, transportation, and built environment, with each area being phased in over a number of years. These accessibility standards began to apply to many private sector and non-profit organizations in January 2012.

The AODA and Regulations require an employer to develop and implement policies, practices and procedures governing how it will improve accessibility to persons with disabilities (including employees, customers and the public) in the provision of its goods and services. Any organization that provides goods or services to members of the public or other third parties and that has at least one (1) employee in Ontario must develop policies as required. The AODA and Regulations also requires large private sector organizations (those with fifty (50) or more employees in Ontario) to develop and implement a multi-year plan indicating how an organization will achieve accessibility and, written policies and a statement of organizational commitment to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner. Such plan, policies and statement must be made available to the public, by January 1, 2014. Small private sector organizations are not required to have a multi-year plan but must develop similar policies and statement of organizational commitment by January 1, 2015. The policies and statement of organizational commitment do not need to be in writing.

Adam wrote a recent blog post on the multi-year plan requirement here. A future blog post will examine policies and statement of organizational commitment.

This post will examine the to do lists of requirements under the accessible employment standards.

Accessible employment standards

Specifically with respect to employees, Section 27 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation requires every employer to provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability. Individualized workplace emergency response plans had to be in place by January 1, 2012.

Every employer/organization must,

  • As soon as practicable after employee’s requirement for accommodation is known, provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees with disabilities and with employee’s consent provide the workplace emergency response information to a person designated by employer to assist the employee
  • Review the individualized workplace emergency response information: when the employee moves to a different location in the organization; when the employee’s overall accommodations needs or plans are reviewed; and, when the employer reviews its general emergency response policies.

Additional requirements under the employment standards section of the Regulation must be met by large organizations by January 1, 2016; and small organizations, where applicable, by January 1, 2017, as follows:

To do List for large employers/organizations by January 1, 2016

  • Develop a written process for developing individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.
  • Develop and implement a return to work process for employees absent due to disabilities who require accommodation to return to work and document the process.
  • Notify employees and public of availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities.
  • Notify job applicants selected for assessment or selection process that accommodations are available upon request.
  • Provide or arrange for suitable accommodation upon request.
  • Notify successful applicants of policies for accommodating employees with disabilities.
  • Inform employees of policies and supports for employees with disabilities, as soon as practicable after new employees begin employment, and update information to employees as policies change
  • Upon request by an employee with a disability, provide accessible formats and communication supports for information in the workplace in consultation with employee making the request.

To do List for small employers/organizations before January 1, 2017

  • Notify employees and public of availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities.
  • Notify job applicants selected for assessment or selection process that accommodations are available upon request.
  • Provide or arrange for suitable accommodation upon request.
  • Notify successful applicants of policies for accommodating employees with disabilities.
  • Inform employees of policies and supports for employees with disabilities as soon as practicable after new employees begin employment and update information to employees as policies change
  • Upon request by an employee with a disability, provide accessible formats and communication supports for information in the workplace in consultation with employee making the request.

Don’t forget, First Reference provides a policy-building resource and tool to help organizations prepare their multi-year accessibility plan, policies, procedures and practices to meet the requirements under Accessible employment standards, and much more. Accessibility Standards PolicyPro provides you with commentaries on your legal obligations and best practice guidelines to help you understand your compliance requirements. The tool also allows you to use customizable templates to help you:

  • identify accessibility problems in existing facilities and understand some of the solutions that may be required to meet your obligations under the AODA (self-audit/assessment checklist);
  • write your multi-year plan, policies, procedures and practices for the Accessible employment standards modelled on the needs of large and small organizations, which includes a statement of organizational commitment; and,
  • remain up-to-date.

Michele Glassford
Editor of Human Resources PolicyPro
published by First Reference Inc.

Michele Glassford

President and Managing Editor at DRH and Lawyer at MacKinnon Law Associates
Michele Glassford, is a lawyer, researcher and policy analyst with a background in employment and labour law.In addition to a part-time law practice in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Michele has worked in the field of labour adjustment for the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Program and has been a Researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Michele also holds the position of President and Managing Editor at D.R. Hancocks & Associates Inc., author of the Human Resources PolicyPros. Read more
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