Meet your next AODA deadlines with this handy guide

Jul 14, 2015

AODAOn track to meet your Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) obligations? Ontario's ambitious program to eliminate barriers for Ontarians with disabilities comes with workplace compliance deadlines. A series of tables below explains what's required to satisfy upcoming obligations. Failure to meet these deadlines puts employers at risk of fines, as well as less traditional but potentially greater consequences, such as being called up before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

"Between 2013 and 2014, 74% of complaints before the tribunal were based on employment, and 54% of these were based on the duty to accommodate disability under Ontario's Human Rights Code," says Jennifer Threndyle, a WSPS consultant and expert on complying with AODA. "This is significant. Many employers don't seem to be aware of this duty."

The financial consequences could be severe. "The average cost to an employer of a case going through the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that isn't settled in remediation, is $250,000," warns Threndyle. Her source: counsel for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who spoke at a well-attended AODA session at WSPS' national Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show in April.

But don't lose sight of the bigger picture: people living with a disability represent a significant employment resource for Ontario employers. Complying with AODA and its standards will enable you to tap into this under-used resource and help achieve a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.

What you may not realize is that you can build on processes and skills already in place. For example, meeting AODA and Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements involves similar approaches to policy development and implementation. Both acts require a policy. Both require assessing the current state, identifying opportunities for improvement, and developing an implementation plan. "What this means in functional terms," says Threndyle, "is that applying an integrated approach to AODA and health and safety will help you reduce costs while increasing organizational effectiveness."

We can help you comply

Threndyle and her team of AODA experts have been busy delivering 3-hour onsite awareness sessions and consultations across the province. "We can help you get up to speed and in a position to manage compliance on your own," says Threndyle. To learn more about what WSPS has to offer, contact Customer Care via telephone: 905-614-1400 or e-mail: customercare@wsps.ca.

For more on upcoming AODA deadlines, see the tables below.

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation - Section 7 - Training

Private and not-for-profit organizations with 1-49 employees have until January 1, 2016 to meet this requirement. Organizations with 50+ employees or more had until January 1, 2015.

Section What's Required What to do
7.1 - Training on the standards and the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities
  • Provide training to all employees, volunteers, anyone who participates in developing the organization's policies, and anyone else who provides goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization
  • Arrange for training
  • Keep records of who has been trained

Information and Communication Standards - Section 11 - Feedback

Private and not-for-profit organizations with 1-49 employees have until January 1, 2016. Organizations with 50+ employees had until January 1, 2015.

Section What's Required What to do
11.1 - Receiving and Responding to Feedback
  • Organizations with external and/or internal processes for receiving and responding to feedback must ensure they are accessible by providing or arranging for accessible formats and communications supports, on request
  • Identify all external and/or internal processes for feedback
  • Create an accessible feedback process, e.g., by direct mail, email, telephone, if requested.

Information and Communication Standards - Section 12 - Accessible Formats

Private and not-for-profit organizations with 50+ employees have until January 1, 2016 to meet this requirement. Organizations with 1-49 employees have until January 1, 2017.

Section What's Required What to do
12.1 - On request, provide accessible formats and communication supports for feedback
  • Provide accessible formats and communication supports in a timely manner
  • Take into account the person's accessibility needs owing to disability and at a cost no more than the regular cost charged to others
  • Document the request
  • Confirm the format required
12.2 - Consultation
  • Consult with the person requesting alternate formats
  • Create a form to facilitate the consultation
  • Document the results
12.3 - Notify the public
  • Let people know about the availability of accessible formats
  • Post a general statement of availability on the website and Intranet

Employment Standards - Section 22 - Recruitment

Private and not-for-profit organizations with 50+ employees have until January 1, 2016 to meet this requirement. Organizations with 1-49 employees have until January 1, 2017. Except where indicated otherwise, these deadlines also apply to Sections 23-31.

Section What's Required What to do
22 - Recruitment General
  • Notify all employees and the public about being able to accommodate applicants with disabilities in the recruitment process
  • Offer accommodation on all internal and external job postings

Employment Standards - Section 23 - Selection

Section What's Required What to do
23.1 - Recruitment Selection
  • Notify selected job applicants of the availability of accommodations on request, in relation to the materials or processes used for selection, while taking into account the applicant's accessibility needs
  • Include in all job postings information on how to request accommodation or assistance. Ask all applicants invited for interviews if they require assistance or accommodation
23.2 - Candidate or Applicant Consultation
  • Consult with applicants to determine suitable formats or communication supports
  • Develop and implement a process and questionnaire

Employment Standards - Section 24 - Offers of Employment

Section What's Required What to do
24 - Offers of Employment
  • Notify successful applicants of company policies for accommodating employees with disabilities
  • Include in employment offers the availability for accommodation and policies in accessible formats

Employment Standards - Section 25 - Accommodation Policy

Section What's Required What to do
25.1 - Policy Notification
  • Inform employees of policies supporting employees with disabilities
  • Communicate the accessibility policy to all current employees
25.2 - Hire Notification
  • Provide accommodation information to new employees as soon as practicable after hiring
  • Add training on the accessibility policy to new employee orientation
25.3 - Policy Changes
  • Advise employees of policy changes when they occur

Employment Standards - Section 26 - Accessible Formats and Communication Supports

Section What's Required What to do
26.1 - Accessible Format and Communication Supports
  • Make available accessible formats and communication supports for job or workplace information
  • Review and update policies and procedures for providing job accommodations
26.2 - Employee Consultation
  • Consult with employees to determine the suitable formats or communication supports
 

Employment Standards - Section 28 - Individual Accommodation Plans

This section applies only to organizations with 50+ employees

Section What's Required What to do
28.1 - Written Process
  • Develop a written process for documenting individual accommodation plans
  • Review any existing accommodation plans and identify elements of AODA requirements that need to be incorporated
  • Develop a process for documenting individual accommodation plans
28.2 - Prescribed Elements
  • Include prescribed elements in the process: how
    • an employee can participate
    • the employee will be assessed
    • the employer can request an assessment to determine accommodation
    • the employee's personal information will remain private
    • often plan will be reviewed and updated
    • reasons for denied request will be communicated
    • the plan will be provided to the employee
  • Include prescribed elements in the written process for documenting individual accommodation plans
28.3 - Individual Accommodation Plans
  • Include information in individual accommodation plans on accessible formats and communication supports provided, individualized workplace emergency response information, and any other accommodation to be provided
  • Create a format for an individual accommodation plan

Employment Standards - Section 29 - Return to Work Process

This section applies only to organizations with 50+ employees

Section What's Required What to do
29.1 - Written Process
  • Develop a documented return-to-work process
  • Review your early and safe return to work program and revise as needed
29.2 - Process Steps
  • Include steps the employer will take to facilitate return-to-work and use individual accommodation plans
  • Review processes and revise as needed to include AODA requirements

Employment Standards - Section 30 - Performance Management

Section What's Required What to do
30 - Performance Management Process (performance reviews, coaching, progressive discipline)
  • Ensure the performance management process takes into account the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities, including existing accommodation plans
  • Review existing performance management systems and revise as necessary

Employment Standards - Section 31 - Career Development

Section What's Required What to do
31 - Career Development
  • Include accessibility considerations and individual accommodation plans in career development and advancement, including additional responsibilities within the current position
  • Accommodate individuals with respect to career development and advancement
  • Provide the appropriate assistive aids

Employment Standards - Section 32 - Redeployment

Section What's Required What to do
32 - Redeployment Process
  • Include accessibility considerations and individual accommodation plans in redeployment processes
  • Review accommodation plans
  • Modify new role as needed