There is a procedural aspect to the duty to accommodate, and a substantive aspect to this duty.
A new concept: The individual accommodation plan
As of January 1, 2016, employers with 50 or more employees are required to create a written individual accommodation plan for any employee who requests accommodation.
Accordingly, employers are required to adopt a more formalized approach when responding to a request for accommodation.
Required elements of an individual accommodation plan
The written individual accommodation plan must include, among other things, the following eight elements:
- The manner in which an employee requesting accommodation can participate in the development of the individual accommodation plan.
- The means by which the employee is assessed on an individual basis.
- The manner in which the employer can request an evaluation by an outside medical or other expert, at the employer’s expense, to assist the employer in determining if accommodation can be achieved and, if so, how accommodation can be achieved.
- The manner in which the employee can request the participation of a representative from their bargaining agent, where the employee is represented by a bargaining agent, or other representative from the workplace, where the employee is not represented by a bargaining agent, in the development of the accommodation plan.
- The steps taken to protect the privacy of the employee’s personal information.
- The frequency with which the individual accommodation plan will be reviewed and updated and the manner in which it will be done.
- If an individual accommodation plan is denied, the manner in which the reasons for the denial will be provided to the employee.
- The means of providing the individual accommodation plan in a format that takes into account the employee’s accessibility needs due to disability.
So when an employee or job applicant asks “How do you accommodate a disabled employee?” you should answer “We prepare an individual accommodation plan for the employee.”
Ten additional new duties owed to disabled employees
In addition to requiring an employer to prepare a written individual accommodation plan for a disabled employee, the Employment Standards section of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act imposes 10 other new obligations on employers.
For more information on these new obligations, read my earlier article on these obligations.