Canada: New Accessibility Standard For Employment

Last Updated: June 5 2019
Article by Melissa Beaumont
Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) was created to achieve an accessible society for all Manitobans disabled by a barrier. Over time, a number of standards will be enacted under the AMA to create accessibility obligations for organizations in areas such as customer service, employment, information & communications, the built environment and transportation.

On May 1, 2019, the Accessible Employment Standard Regulation came into force. It creates a general obligation on all employers to implement policies and practices to reasonably accommodate employees who are disabled by a barrier in the workplace.

Specific highlights of the Accessible Employment Standard include:

  • Employers must tell job applicants that reasonable accommodation is available during the recruitment process.
  • When offering employment, employers must inform successful applicants of the employer’s accommodation policies.
  • Employers must ensure that all performance management and career development processes take accessibility into account.
  • Any employees responsible for recruiting, supervising, or managing employees must receive accommodation training.
  • Employers must establish return to work policies, offer individual communication supports (like making documents available in accessible formats) and create individualized accommodation plans upon request from the employee.
  • Employers must tailor emergency response plans to employees who may face special risks due to a disability and, with the employee’s permission, share that information with someone in the organization who agrees to help that employee during an emergency.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must document their accessible employment policies and practices in writing, which must include a policy as to how the organization will create individual accommodation plans for employees.

Compliance with this standard will be phased in over the next several years:

  • All employers must meet the emergency response plan requirement by May 1, 2020.
  • Government must comply with all other requirements by May 1, 2020.
  • Public sector employers and large municipalities must comply with all other requirements by May 1, 2021.
  • Private sector employers (including non-profits) and small municipalities must comply with all other requirements by May 1, 2022.

While this means that many businesses will have 3 years to develop a compliance plan, it is never too early to start. We would be happy to assist you in developing your accessible employment policies.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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