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New Employer Risk in 2016: Employment & Accessibility

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As 2016 nears employers in Ontario will once again have to get moving with a new set of legal obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (called the AODA).

We remain surprised in our consulting practice how this significant and far reaching employment law has kept so low a profile for many employers (despite being 10 year old employment law since 2005) in 2015.

The most onerous obligation for all employers is about to take place January 2016 (for employers of 50 or more employees)! By now all employers with over 50 employees must have provided mandatory training to ALL employees about the Ontario Human Rights Code and about the Integrated Standards (called IASR).  In 2014 employers were to have developed, implemented & updated their Multi-Year Accessibility Plan (MYAP).

Employment lawyers whom we work with are consistently stating this is the most significant year for private sector employers who must ensure there are written accommodation plans for employees with disabilities and for those returning to the workplace following disability. As well employers now have to build accessibility (by way of Policy, Procedures, Websites, and the Built Environment) into the entire employment life cycle from recruiting and hiring to the ongoing employment relationship.

The other significant point and as a reminder to employers in Ontario, the repercussions of ignoring the AODA and all of the obligations are very clear. The Directorate has fined some companies in Ontario for not filing their Accessibility Reports and Multi-Year Plans. The Directorate has commenced a blitz to determine which companies are compliant and have filed or not. The last and biggest risk for companies who do not comply are legal in nature whereby they are at a large risk whereby Human Rights Complaints can be made by anyone employee, visitor, consumer, client regarding a lack of access to your business. This can lead to Human Rights Tribunals, risks regarding business reputation & large legal fees.

It is time to review your programs and determine where the gaps are for the Customer Service Standard (CSS) and now the Employment section of the IASR. It is not too late to educate all employees about the OHRC (Ontario Human Rights Code, Disability Rights) or to develop your Multi-Year Plans.

Our consulting experts at Optimal Performance Consultants have been guiding our clients to compliance in this field for 25 years. Let our experts ensure your company is in compliance to avoid legal and financial risks.

From E Learning Modules to on site education of Sr Managers, Accessible Built Audits by our Certified Auditors, to Website Audits and Policy writing our team is ready to lower your company’s risks & guarantee compliance now and to 2025.

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