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Up-to-date Individualized Accommodation Processes in Ontario Workplaces

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 up-to-date individualized accommodation processes in Ontario workplaces.

Up-to-date Individualized Accommodation Processes in Ontario Workplaces

The Employment Standards  require all public sector organizations, and private or non-profit organizations with fifty or more workers, to develop and document processes for writing individualized accommodation plans. Individualized accommodation plans are written documents that list all accommodations a worker with a disability needs to make their job accessible. For example, accommodations that a worker might use include:

  • Informational accommodations, such as:
  • Workstation accommodations, such as a:
    • Raised desk
    • Quiet workstation
  • Scheduling accommodations, such as:
    • Shifts at certain times
    • A compressed work week
  • Structural accommodations, such as:
    • Automatic doors
    • Accessible washrooms

An employer’s process for creating individualized accommodation plans should regulate how:

  • A worker requesting accommodation can take part in developing the plan
  • The worker will be assessed on an individual basis
  • A representative from the workplace or union can take part in developing the plan, at the worker’s request
  • 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, 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

Guidelines for Creating and Implementing Individualized Accommodation Processes

Employers must clearly understand how to develop these accommodation processes. Likewise, employers must be prepared to implement their processes when a worker discloses their disability and their accommodation needs. Furthermore, employers must know how accommodation processes under the Employment Standards relate to the right to accommodation in employment, under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). Moreover, workers should also know that their workplaces must have processes to accommodate their needs.

However, the Committee reports that most resources to teach employers about individualized accommodation processes are out of date. Furthermore, workers may lack awareness about resources to support them in discussing accommodations with their employers. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the government should provide guidelines and best practices for creating up-to-date individualized accommodation processes. These guidelines and best practices should be:

Finally, the government should consult with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) to ensure that guidelines and best practices concur with its policies.