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Improving accessibility standards for employment

accessibility standards for employmentThe Ontario government is updating the accessibility standards for employment to make employment more accessible to people with disabilities.

The 2018 Review of the Employment Standards has tabled initial recommendations and the Employment Standards Development Committee would like to get interested stakeholders and the public’s feedback.

The following is the Employment Standards Development Committee’s initial advice and recommendations on the initial proposed Employment Standards, itemized and organized by focus area.

1. A new long term objective: The initial long term objective of the accessible Employment Standards was described as follows:

The long term objective of this initial proposed employment accessibility standard is to set out policies, procedures and requirements for the identification, removal and prevention of barriers across all stages of the employment life cycle for persons with disabilities.”

The new long term objective is described as follows:

The long term objective of the Employment Standards is to identify, remove and prevent barriers across all stages of the employment life cycle for persons with disabilities by 2025.” The new objective more clearly captures the intended outcome of the accessible Employment Standards.

2. Improved clarity with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the duty to accommodate: The review committee recommends that within two years of the acceptance of the recommendations, the government and the Ontario Human Rights Commission review and strengthen guidelines and clarification for employers with regard to the differences between Ontario Human Rights Code and the AODA’s Employment Standards.

3. Clarifying the definition of employee under the AODA: The review committee believes a gap exists because a definition of “employee” is not included in the AODA and Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The committee recommends that within 12 months of the acceptance of the recommendations that a definition of “employee” which considers existing employment legislation should be added to the AODA or IASR and be consistently applied throughout. This definition should be consistent with the intent and purpose of the AODA and should be based on the employer-employee relationship.

4. Recruitment, assessment and selection:

The committee recommends:

Section 22: Notice of availability of accommodations throughout recruitment by employers should be expanded to include notice of availability of accommodation during employment within 12 months of acceptance of the recommendation. The policy intent of this recommendation is to amend Section 22 notice and not to expand other requirements of the accessible Employment Standards. The rationale of the recommendation is that this provides applicants with better awareness of their right to accommodation during the employment lifecycle. The requirement to accommodate throughout employment under the Ontario Human Rights Code may currently not be clear.

Section 23: Guidelines and best practices should be developed on how to make the recruitment, assessment and selection processes and materials inclusive by design. This should be developed within two years of the government accepting the recommendation.

Section 23 and 24: Notice to successful applicants be reviewed and strengthened to better promote guidelines and best practices to clarify the requirements to help employers and candidates have an open and successful conversations to accommodate an individual’s needs. This should be done within two years of the government accepting the recommendation.

5. Workplace emergency response information: The committee recommends that the word “individualized” be removed from Section 27 within 12 months from effective date. Section 27 makes references to “individualized” emergency response information. The committee believes the use of the word “individualized” may result in obligated organizations unnecessarily developing individualized emergency response plans. Questions of individualized emergency plans and emergency accommodations needs are best addressed as part of Section 28 requirements for individualized accommodation plans.

6. Individualized accommodation plans: The committee recommends that to help with compliance with section 28, the government, within two years of approving the recommendations, should be responsible for a centralized portal for updated resources for individualized accommodation plan processes. The intent of the recommendation is that the tools and resources align with the OHRC’s policies on the procedural duty to accommodate. In addition, the OHRC should be consulted to ensure harmonization. This recommendation should be completed within two years of the government accepting the recommendation.

7. Monitoring of return to work processes (Section 29): The committee recommends that the government should monitor the implementation of Section 29, including any gaps and challenges to inform the next review of the accessible Employment Standards. The committee believes the desired outcome of this section is that employers create processes that better recognize the needs of persons returning to work. The return to work processes under other legislation are constantly evolving, so more information, research and public feedback may be required. Monitoring should begin immediately upon the government accepting recommendation.

Feedback can be provided online by May 5, 2018.

You can also submit your feedback as follows:

Email at aoda.input@ontario.ca

Mail to:
Attention: Laura McKeen, Chair
Employment Standards Review Feedback
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
777 Bay Street,
6th Floor, Suite 601A
Toronto, ON
M7A 2J4

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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