The first review of the AODA’s Employment Standards became public in 2019. In this review, the AODA Employment Standards Development Committee recommends changes to the existing Employment Standards. In addition, the Committee also identifies barriers that employment-seekers and workers with disabilities face, and recommends strategies to remove these barriers. This article will discuss the Committee’s recommendations for a definition of employee in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
A Definition of Employee in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation
The Employment Standards apply to employees, and not to volunteers. Moreover, the Standards apply to organizations with at least one (1) employee. Moreover, some requirements only apply to organizations with fifty (50) or more employees. For example, private-sector organizations with fifty (50) or more employees need to have:
As a result, organizations must easily be able to identify how many employees they have. Gaining or losing employees may change an employer’s duties under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). For example, an employer with forty-nine (49) full-time employees and one contract worker may believe they do not need to make their organization’s website accessible. However, counting that contract worker as a fiftieth (50th) employee would change the organization’s status under the IASR.
Despite the importance of employee numbers as a basis for the AODA, the Act does not define the term employee. Likewise, there is no definition of employee in the Employment Standards, or any other part of the IASR. This lack could lead to confusion about whether employers need to comply with requirements in the Employment Standards or other AODA standards. For example, employers may be unsure whether contract workers or unpaid interns count as employees. Similarly, as the gig economy grows, relationships between employers and employees are changing.
Therefore, the Committee recommends that a definition of employee should become part of the AODA or the IASR. This definition should apply to all AODA standards. Moreover, it should be based on existing definitions of the term in other legislation, such as employment law or occupational health and safety law.