by Yosie Saint-Cyr
The Accessibility Advisory Council’s (AAC) is inviting interested stakeholders to provide their views to its initial proposal for an accessibility standard for employment. Therefore, employment is the second of five accessibility standards being developed under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA).
The purpose of the employment standards is to remove employment barriers for persons disabled by barriersincluding the obligation to provide reasonable accommodationunder the Human Rights Code. This standard will have a timeline for compliance, however, all employers must engage in emergency planning one year after the standard comes into effect.
Specifically, the employment standards have the following timelines:
- one year after the standard becomes a regulation: applies to the Government of Manitoba
- Two years after the standard becomes a regulation: applies to every government agency, as described in The Financial Administration Act; and
- Three years after the standard becomes a regulation: applies to all private and non-profit organizations.
When reading the discussion paper that includes the proposed accessible employment standards, AAC would like stakeholders to consider the following:
- Does the standard provide clear direction on how to remove employment barriers?
- Is the standard too broad?
- Is the standard too narrow?
- Are there items missing from the standard?
- Is the standard achievable?
- Will the standard make a difference?
To summarize, the proposed employment standards would:
- Provide definitions for terms used in the standard such as reasonable accommodation, accessible format and communication support among others.
- Apply to paid employees (this includes, but is not limited to, full-time, part-time, paid apprenticeships and seasonal employment) but not volunteers and other non-paid individuals.
- Have a requirement for all employers to engage in emergency planning and response.
- Have three main obligations for employers in the areas of recruitment and hiring, reasonable accommodation, ongoing accommodation and return to work.
This is a bit different than the Ontario AODA requirements which specify the areas in which employers must take action to provide reasonable accommodation, as well as accessible workplace processes during the employment relationship after the employee has been hired. The Manitoba requirements are broader and apply to almost every aspect of the employment relationship.
Briefly stated, compliance requirements are as follows.
1. Recruitment and hiring employers are obliged to:
- Notify job applicants that reasonable accommodations for disabilities are provided during the recruitment process. This includes both internal and external applicants.
- Notify their employees and the public, during the recruitment processes about their policies on reasonable accommodation for applicants disabled by barriers.
- Notify job applicants invited to an interview during the selection processes, that disability-related accommodations are provided on request, including for any presentations, written assignments, or other assessments. The employer will have to consult with the applicant about appropriate accommodations. When a candidate requests an accommodation, the employer will have to consult with the candidate to identify accessibility needs and provide reasonable accommodation.
- Inform successful applicants of their employee accommodation policies. This will ensure new employees know the employer’s accommodation policies. This includes instances of making offers of employment, and notifying successful candidates of their policies for providing reasonable accommodations to employees disabled by barriers.
2. Reasonable accommodation and ongoing accommodation employers are obliged to:
- Notify all new and existing employees of their policies, and any updates, for accommodating employees disabled by barriers. Employees can acquire disabilities at any point in their lives, so it is important that employers share this information with all employees. This requires that employers:
- inform their employees of all policies used to reasonably accommodate employees disabled by barriers.
- provide the information required under this section to new employees as soon as practicable after they begin their employment.
- provide updated information to their employees whenever there is a change to existing policies on the provision of reasonable accommodation to employees.
- Consult with their employee/s to identify appropriate accommodations for those effected by communication barriers. This includes:
- providing information in accessible formats or other communication supports.
- at the employee’s request, providing or arranging for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for:
- information that is needed in order to perform the employee’s job; and,
- information that is generally available to employees in the workplace.
- Provide documented individual accommodation plans. All employers should have a clear and consistent process in place for accommodating employees disabled by barriers. Organizations with 20 or more employees, must document the process including having individual accommodation plans. Employers must ask the employee requesting an accommodation to participate in the development of this plan. Employers and employees must review and update the plan as necessary.
- Consider the accessibility needs of employees and ensure that reasonable accommodation apply to all aspects of employment, including performance management, career development and advancement, redeployment and any other performance related processes that employers use to retain employees.
3. Returns to work process employers are obliged to:
- Have a documented return to work process for employees who have been absent from work due to a disability and require reasonable accommodation (Employers with 20 or more employees)
- Apply the return to work process if an individual’s illness or injury is covered by the return to work provisions of the Workers Compensation Act.
4. Emergency planning and response employers are obliged to:
Provide emergency response information to employees disabled by barriers and consult with them about how best to address their needs. This will ensure that a plan and supports are in place in case of an emergency. Because lives may be effected, all employers are asked to fulfill this requirement without delay; the general deadlines for compliance do not apply. This to provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who require reasonable accommodation as soon as practicable and to shall consult with the employee requiring reasonable accommodation in the development of a workplace emergency plan, among other things.
Comments must be submitted to the AAC by February 15, 2017. How to submit a feedback is found in the discussion paper. Following the consultation period, the AAC will consider all comments and feedback and make revisions to the standard as considered appropriate. They will also prepare recommendations for an employment standard to be submitted to the government by March 31, 2017.