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Posts tagged: AODA Obligations

Why Employers Are Finding It Increasingly Difficult to Comply with Ontario’s Employment Laws

By , November 8, 2016 9:20 am

Lawyers as Forest Rangers

You can compare employment lawyers to forest rangers.

We prevent legal fires when we, for example, draft employment contracts & legally required policies, and when we provide prophylactic advice such as pre-termination advice.

We put out legal fires when we, for example, defend wrongful dismissal actions, human rights complaints, and claims for overtime pay under the Employment Standards Act.

Lawyers as Compliance Officers

In recent years with the proliferation of new workplace laws, employment lawyers have also taken on the role of compliance officers for some clients.

Unless a person is responsible for keeping an organization up to date on Ontario’s employment laws, an employer is simply not aware of new employment laws.

In the past, many employment laws were of the “Thou shall not…” variety.

Increasingly, however, the laws are of the “Thou shall do (something)…” variety which makes compliance impossible if the employer is unaware of a new law. As most people are aware, ignorance of the law is not a defence to a violation of a law.

New Employer Obligations

As readers of this blog are aware, the Ontario government regularly introduces new laws and amends existing employment laws. Here are a small number of recent new or changed laws:

  1. Mandatory Training

New employees must generally receive customer service training under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”), and mandatory health and safety training under the Occupational Health & Safety Act (“OHSA”).

  1. Mandatory Investigations

Employers are now required to investigate workplace harassment complaints (i.e. my co-worker is “bullying” me) and the person who investigates the complaint must be appropriately trained. If not, the Ministry of Labour can order the employer to retain an external investigator at the employer’s expense.

Although an investigation into a human rights complaint is not explicitly required under the Ontario Human Rights Code the failure to do so can result in an order to pay an employee damages for failure to investigate even if an adjudicator concludes no discrimination took place.

  1. Mandatory Requirements In Relation with Disabled Employees

As of January 1, 2016 eleven (11) new obligations were imposed on employers with 50 or more employees as a result of the Employment Regulation under AODA. These obligations were all of the “Though shall do (something)…” variety. One such obligation is to prepare an individual accommodation plan for any disabled employee who requests accommodation. This plan must address at least 8 prescribed issues. These new obligations are imposed on employers with 1 to 49 employees on January 1, 2017.

I will continue to bring new employment law developments to your attention through this blog. But sometimes this is not enough.

The MacLeod Law Firm’s Compliance Services

To help employers comply with new employment laws and to manage compliance risk, the MacLeod Law Firm is offering a number of fixed fee services.

One service is our HR/Employment Law Compliance service. After determining a client’s compliance needs, we prepare a schedule of monthly services. (i.e. Month 1 – Occupational Health & Safety Act compliance; Month 2 – Employment Standards Act compliance; Month 3 – Mandatory postings and training compliance etc.)

Another service is our AODA Compliance Report. We review each client’s current practices and provide a written report setting out exactly what the organization needs to do to comply with AODA’s new Employment Regulation.

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

 

AODA Update: New Regulation Taking Effect July 1, 2016

By , June 27, 2016 11:56 pm

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) is constantly changing. So when there has been yet another change to AODA it takes all of my energy not to cover my ears and yell “LAH, LAH, LAH” at the top of my lungs.

Employment Standards Regulation: January 1, 2017

The most important amendment to AODA that applies to employers with 1 to 49 employees takes effect on January 1, 2017. For a description of our compliance service in connection with the Employment Standards Regulation, click here.

Ontario Regulation 165/16: July 1, 2016

Before the Employment Standards takes effect, however, another regulation – O. Reg. 165/16 – will take effect on or about July 1, 2016. It will consolidate all of the accessibility standards in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Thereafter both small (1 to 49 employees) and large (Over 50 employees) organizations will be required to do the following:

Changes to AODA Requirements

  1. Training– currently, organizations are only required to provide customer service training to employees and volunteers who deal with third parties, and those who participate in developing the organization’s policies. However, the new regulation will require organizations to, as soon as practicable, train: (a) all employees and volunteers; (b) every person who participates in developing the organization’s policies; and (c) every other person who provides goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization.
  2. Documenting policies, practices and procedures – currently, organizations with 20 or more employees must “document” their customer service policies, practices and procedures, and make a copy of that document available on request. However, when this regulation takes effect, this requirement will only apply to organizations with 50 or more employees. In other words, organizations with 20 to 49 employees are no longer required to document their customer service policies, practices and procedures.

Besides documenting their customer service policies, practices and procedures, large organizations must also (a) notify persons to whom it provides goods, services or facilities that the document which describes the organization’s policies, practices and procedures is available upon request; and (b) prepare a document that describes the organization’s training policy, summarizes the content of the training and specifies when the training is to be provided. Both documents must be provided to any person upon request.

All organizations with 20 or more employees must confirm their compliance with the above requirements by submitting an accessibility compliance report by no later than December 31, 2017.

Lesson to Be Learned

We recommend that you review and update all of your organization’s AODA policies, practices and procedures to ensure you are in compliance with the upcoming changes.

MacLeod Law Firm Update

I am very pleased to announce that I have hired Nadia Halum as our newest associate lawyer. She articled for us this past year. Please join me in welcoming Nadia to our firm. She can be reached at (647) 985-9894 or [email protected]

 

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

“The material and information provided on this blog and this website are for general information only and should not, in any respect, be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information linked or referred to or contained herein. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog, without first retaining counsel and obtaining appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.”

 

 

 

Making the Workplace an Accessible Place: One Obligation At a Time

By , February 24, 2015 4:12 am

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, 2005, (the “AODA”), is a statute aimed at developing, implementing and enforcing standards that promote accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario. This law is being phased-in over 20 years.

The AODA has the potential to improve many Canadian’s lives but it faces one major problem: lack of compliance. According to Canadian HR Reporter, about 70% of employers were not complying with AODA as of November 2013. The reality is: many small employers are simply not aware of AODA.

That’s where we come in. This blog provides a basic overview of some of the obligations that are imposed on employers under AODA. Some deadlines have passed while others are fast approaching.

The Customer Service Standard

AODA has an Accessible Customer Service Standard. A summary of this standard is found here.

Did you know that the obligations set out in this standard should have been completed in 2012?

For Ontario employers, a step-by-step guide to complying with this standard is found here.

Following this, on or before December 31, 2014, obligated organizations with 20 or more employees should have filed a second report informing the AODA that they are still complying and achieving accessibility under the Customer Service Standard. Have you?

Obligations as of January 2014

That’s not all. As of January 1, 2014, new obligations were imposed on employers with 50 or more employees. You can find that information here.

New Obligations as of January 2015

There’s more. As of January 1, 2015, the following obligations took effect:

1.All employees and others providing services on behalf of an organization with 50 or more employees must receive training on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities and the Integrated Standards. For example, you can receive training on how to best accommodate workers who suffer from a mental illness such as anxiety or depression.

2. Organizations with 50 or more employees must ensure that their feedback processes can be administered in accessible formats and with communication supports, upon request.

3. Organizations with less than 50 employees must ensure that they have developed and implemented accessibility policies describing how the organization will achieve accessibility and compliance with the Integrated Standards.

4. Organizations with less than 50 employees must have regard to accessibility issues when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosk.

The Employment Standard

Perhaps the most onerous obligations for employers are set out in the Employment Standard. A summary of these standards is found here.

The Employment Standard takes effect for private sector organizations with 50 or more employees on January 1, 2016. Stay tuned for more information about these new obligations. Please don’t wait until December of this year to start complying!!

For private sector organizations with less than 50 employees the Employment Standard takes effect on January 1, 2017.

And I repeat: don’t wait until December of this year to start complying!

If you have any questions about your organization’s AODA obligations, please contact Doug MacLeod at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected] at your convenience.

 

New AODA Obligations for Employers: effective January 1, 2014

By , April 22, 2014 1:24 pm

The Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act brought changes into effect on January 1, 2014. These AODA obligations are reviewed below.

Obligation to Prepare and Post a Multi-Year Accessibility Plan

As of January 1, 2014, most private sector employer organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario (a “large organization”) had additional AODA obligations. They were required to:

  1. establish, implement, maintain and document a multi-year accessibility plan. This plan should outline the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its requirements under Integrated Accessibility Standards, O. Reg. 191/11 (the Regulation);
  2. post the accessibility plan on its website, if any, and provide the plan  in an accessible format upon request. “Accessible formats” may include large print, recorded audio and electronic formats, braille and other formats usable by persons with disabilities; and
  3. review and update the accessibility plan at least once every five years.

The Regulation does not prescribe a process for establishing an accessibility plan. Here is a 3-step process to consider:

1. Assemble a team.

2. Assess barriers. Here are types of barriers that can exist:

  • Attitudinal barriers are those that discriminate against people with disabilities;
  • Information or communications barriers happen when a person can’t easily understand information;
  • Technology barriers occur when a technology can’t be modified to support various assistive devices;
  • Organizational barriers are an organization’s policies, practices or procedures that discriminate against people with disabilities;
  • Architectural and physical barriers are features of buildings or spaces that cause problems for people with disabilities.

3. Develop accessibility policies and an accessibility plan. For more information on the policies that should have been      prepared by January 1, 2012, click here.

Obligation to make Websites Accessible

In addition, as of January 1, 2014, the AODA obligations for websites changed. A large organization’s new internet websites and web content on those sites must now conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Recommendation, dated December 2008, entitled “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0”.

An “internet website” means a collection of related web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that are addressed relative to a common Uniform Resource Identifier and is accessible to the public. A “new internet website” means either a website with a new domain name or a website with an existing domain name undergoing a significant refresh.

Employer takeaways

1. A private sector employer with 50 or more employees should have prepared and posted a multi-year accessibility     plan on its website by now. An employer can be fined $100,000 a day for not complying with this law. Directors can         be fined up to $50,000 per day.

2. If the employer has not posted an accessibility plan then someone within the organization should immediately be         assigned the task of preparing the accessibility plan.

3. The employer should speak with its IT consultant (or IT department) to make sure that its web content and any     significant refresh of the website complies with WCAG 2.0 Level A.

If you have any questions about your organization’s AODA obligations, please contact Doug MacLeod at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected] at your convenience.

 

 

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