On January 1, 2016, the employment standards provisions set out in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation made pursuant to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 come into force for large non-public sector employers in the province. These new requirements  will impact on key aspects of employment including recruitment, selection, advancement and accommodation practices.

By January 1, 2016, non-public sector employers in the province with 50 or more employees will be required to do, amongst other things, the following:

  • Notify employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in the recruitment processes;
  • At the time that an offer is made, notify successful applicants of the employer’s policies for accommodating employees with disabilities;  
  • Provide or arrange to provide accessible formats and communication supports for disabled employees on request in order to enable the employee to access information that is (a) needed in order to perform the employee’s job, and (b) generally available to employees in the workplace;
  • Develop and maintain a written process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities, which process must include the following 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.
  • Develop and maintain a return to work process for employees who have been absent from work due to a disability and require disability-related accommodations in order to return to work, including the steps the employer will take to facilitate the return to work; and
  • To take into account the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities as well as any individual accommodation plans when using performance management, redeployment and/or providing career development and advancement to employees with disabilities.

The new employment standards requirements are the latest phase of the staggered implementation of the regulations made pursuant to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, including the customer service regulation. For purposes of the AODA, “disability” has the same definition as it does in the OntarioHuman Rights Code.  These requirements (amongst others) will not apply to volunteers or other non-paid individuals in an organization.

These requirements – with some exemptions – will come into force for small non-public sector employers (i.e. those with fewer than 50 employees in Ontario) on January 1, 2017.

In advance of the deadline, HR departments should review existing practices, written policies and other employment documents, including template job postings, applications and job offers to ensure they are consistent with the new standards. While not expressly required at this time, HR departments may want to provide additional training to supervisors, managers and others in the workplace responsible for recruiting, selection, and those who manage and facilitate the return to work and accommodation process.   Large non-public sector employers were required to provide this training by January 1, 2015.