The Employment Standard of the AODA requires employers to make their workplace practices accessible to potential or current workers with disabilities. The standard applies to paid workers but not to volunteers. Under the standard, an “employer” refers to the organization that employs a person.
What is the Employment Standard?
The Employment Standard requires that employers must make their workplace and employment practices accessible to potential or current employees with disabilities.
Recruiting and hiring
Organizations must make accessibility a normal part of the recruitment and hiring process. Employers must notify applicants that accommodation is available. They may do so by advertising on websites or job postings that they encourage applications from people with disabilities. Employers must also tell applicants that they may ask for accommodations for the interview or assessment.
If a selected applicant makes a request, employers must consult with the applicant to provide the accommodation. This consultation is a great chance for employers to get first-hand information about making the workplace accessible. Candidates with disabilities will know what accommodations are best for them.
When making a job offer, employers must notify the successful candidate of their accommodation policies. They must also specify whom the applicant should contact if they wish to request an accommodation. Encourage the applicant to make any request as soon as possible. This way, suitable accommodations are implemented before the applicant’s start date. Also, employers must tell all workers whenever there is a change to their workplace policy on accommodation.
Information and communication supports
Accommodations may involve the ways in which a worker receives and processes information. This includes all information integral to the employee’s work and all information available to other employees in the workplace. Workers may need information in accessible formats, such as accessible digital or large-print versions of documents. Other workers may need communication supports, such as Sign Language interpretation or real-time captioning at meetings.
Individual accommodation plans
Large companies need to develop and document individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities based on a clearly written process. For instance, the process for creating plans should include how:
- An employee requesting accommodation can take part in developing the plan
- The employee will be assessed on an individual basis
- An employee can request that a rep from the workplace or union can take part in developing the plan
- 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 or how accommodation can be achieved
In addition to the above, the process for creating plans should also include:
- Steps to protect the confidentiality of the worker’s personal information
- How and how often the plan will be reviewed and updated
- An explanation of why the individual accommodation plan was denied, if applicable
- How the plan will be given in a format accessible to the worker
Performance management and career development
Employers must also ensure that their performance management and career development processes are accessible. When giving any type of feedback to a worker, employers must consider the worker’s disability. Employers may use a worker’s individualized accommodation plan for reference on how to do so. Similarly, employers may promote workers with disabilities or transfer them to new positions. Workers must be accommodated as they learn new job tasks or responsibilities. Workers should have access to:
in the formats that work best for them.
Individualized emergency response plans
If a worker requires help in an emergency, the employer and worker must create an individualized emergency response plan. The plan outlines how this help will be provided. Plans should be made as soon as possible. The employer must make changes to the plan whenever the worker’s location changes and when the worker’s accommodations are reviewed. Employers may also make changes to the plan when the employer reviews general emergency procedure.
Return to work process
All large or public sector organizations must have a return to work process in place. The return to work process is for workers who have been absent from work due to a disability and require disability-related accommodations to return to work. However, if the return to work provision under any other law covers an employee’s injury or illness, the return to work process under AODA does not apply.
The return to work process must be in writing. It must include the following:
- The steps taken by the employer to transition the employee back to work
- The individual accommodation plan
Why do we Need the Employment Standard?
Employers often overlook candidates with disabilities because they do not understand how capable people with disabilities are.
Despite the stereotypes and barriers, there are plenty of reasons to hire people with disabilities. AODA ensures that people living with impairments have equal opportunity and use their skills in the workplace. Inclusivity promotes diversity, productivity, reduced absenteeism, talent, and profitability. Moreover, with an inclusive workplace, your business’s brand and reputation will improve. Customer loyalty will increase when clients see a diverse and accessible work environment.