AODA – Are you ready?

Employers in Ontario have been aware of the Ontario Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) since it came into force in June 2005.  The AODA seeks to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.

Effective January 1, 2016, private-sector organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario will be required to comply with new employment-specific requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation, made under the AODA. The requirements imply modest changes to most workplaces and are consistent with employers’ existing obligations under human rights legislation.

There are 11 new employment specific requirements, including:

  • Recruitment: Organizations are required to advise job applicants that the organization will accommodate disabilities during the selection process. This can be accomplished in many ways, including, for example, by posting the information on the organization’s website or including it in the job posting.
  • Recruitment: Organizations are required to notify successful applicants of the organization’s policies for accommodating employees with disabilities.
  • Accommodation Plans: Organizations are required to develop a written process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities. The process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans must include various prescribed components.
  • Return to Work Process: Organizations are required to develop and have in place 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.

Private-sector organizations with less than 50 employees in Ontario have until January 1, 2017 to comply with the new employment-specific requirements.

Employers should be certain to turn their mind to these requirements as the Integrated Accessibility Standards permits the Director of Accessibility Standards to order steep penalties for contraventions, up to $100,000 daily. It is important to note that the above-described requirements are in addition to the many requirements under the Customer Service and Integrated Accessibility Standards that are already in force.

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