Canadian Employment Law Today

December 11, 2013

Focuses on human resources law from a business perspective, featuring news and cases from the courts, in-depth articles on legal trends and insights from top employment lawyers across Canada.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 0 of 11

CURRENT NEWS AND PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR EMPLOYERS AODA: Are you ready? Next phase of Ontario's accessibility legislation has far-reaching impact on many aspects of employment PM40065782 | BY LAURA WILLIAMS | BY NOW, MOST business owners, managers and HR professionals have heard of Ontario's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). But how many of those stakeholders fully understand their obligations under the act remains to be seen. That's not surprising given AODA's complexity, staged implementation and detailed requirements. Despite those challenges, the goal of the next phased rollout of AODA is simple: Ensuring full workplace access for workers with disabilities, many of whom still face literal and figurative obstacles simply entering and exiting their places of work. That commendable goal aside, the legislation poses significant HR law challenges for employers in the coming years. First off, it's important to remember that compliance is mandatory for all organizations affected by the act — and if you think your company is beyond AODA's reach, think again. If your organization has at least one employee and provides goods, services or facilities to the public or to other organizations — virtually any B2B or B2C company — then consider it covered by the act. It's the reason why organizations need to immediately prepare and amend their internal HR policies to align with AODA requirements or face the threat of potential fines or other legal headaches. AODA implementation began in 2010 with the introduction of the Customer Service Standard, which first applied to public sector organizations and, two years later, the private sector and nonprofits. That was followed by the Integrated Accessibility Standard, which set standards in areas including information and communication, transportation and employment. It's the latter category — which applies to all paid employees including full- and part-time, seasonal, and paid apprenticeships — that is poised to have the greatest impact on Ontario workplaces, which must achieve full compli- ance by Jan. 1, 2016. There are a number of areas where AODA will impact workplaces: It could change your hiring process Under the act, employers will be required to provide candidate assessment materials in an accessible format, while being able to notify candidates of the availability of accommodation during the recruitment process, as well as after the hiring process is completed. While the need to make sure the workplace is fully accessible is obvious, the need to make the recruitment and onboarding process just as accessible may seem less apparent. It could change how you manage employees Employers will soon be required to develop a range of formal processes covering return-to-work programs for accommodation-requiring employees sidelined due to disabilities. Employers will need to consider accessibility when managing performance or re-allocating staff resources to new positions. Providing training to employees to keep them abreast of accessibility standards, and developing individualized workplace emergency plans for disabled employees, will be two other organizational priorities. Although feasible, these changes to an organization's employee-management processes and systems take time and resources to develop and implement — which many organizations, particularly small-to-medium-sized ones, may lack. It makes sense to budget the time and funding now to make necessary adjustments in advance of the 2016 compliance deadline. DECEMBER 11, 2013 In This Issue ASK AN EXPERT: Enforecability of restrictive covenants • Disclosure of disability 2 CASES AND TRENDS: Ontario toughens background checks at long-term care homes 3 CASE IN POINT: Disability in the workplace: Perception matters 4 YOU MAKE THE CALL: Contractors on the road to employee status? 12 Get story straight, arbitrator rules Unexplained absences ends in termination for steelworker Under AODA, all employment-related information — think everything from application forms to employee manuals — will need to be made available in accessible formats. Employers will also be required to provide information vital to a disabled employee's performance of EVER-EVOLVING EXCUSES have led an arbitrator to dismiss a grievance against Essar Steel. United Steelworkers of America (USW) Local 2251 filed a grievance on behalf of David Mazzuca, claiming the former Essar Steel employee was improperly and unjustly discharged. The former manufacturing line observer at the company's steel plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was fired on Oct. 19, 2012, after missing two shifts in a week-long period in September. The company claimed Mazzuca was "less than forthcoming regarding the circumstances" surrounding his absences. Mazzuca was absent during an evening shift on Sept. 15 and again during a morning shift on Sept. 20. These absences, and his inability to explain them, led the company to find him in breach of the provisions in his Conditional Rehire or Last Chance Agreement. Mazzuca was scheduled to work a 12hour shift starting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 15. About a week before the shift Mazzuca approached Marty Harris, a frontline supervisor at the plant, and asked for the day off. Harris testified Mazzuca wanted to attend a job interview Continued on page 7 Continued on page 11 It could change how you communicate

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Employment Law Today - December 11, 2013