New accessibility standard for employment in Manitoba

New regulation in effect May 1 requires Manitoba business to accommodate employees who face barriers in the workplace

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) was created to achieve an accessible society for all Manitobans disabled by a barrier. Over time, a number of standards will be enacted under the AMA to create accessibility obligations for organizations in areas such as customer service, employment, information & communications, the built environment and transportation.

On May 1, 2019, the Accessible Employment Standard Regulation came into force. It creates a general obligation on all employers to implement policies and practices to reasonably accommodate employees who are disabled by a barrier in the workplace.

Specific highlights of the Accessible Employment Standard include:

  • Employers must tell job applicants that reasonable accommodation is available during the recruitment process.
  • When offering employment, employers must inform successful applicants of the employer’s accommodation policies.
  • Employers must ensure that all performance management and career development processes take accessibility into account.
  • Any employees responsible for recruiting, supervising, or managing employees must receive accommodation training.
  • Employers must establish return to work policies, offer individual communication supports (like making documents available in accessible formats) and create individualized accommodation plans upon request from the employee.
  • Employers must tailor emergency response plans to employees who may face special risks due to a disability and, with the employee’s permission, share that information with someone in the organization who agrees to help that employee during an emergency.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must document their accessible employment policies and practices in writing, which must include a policy as to how the organization will create individual accommodation plans for employees. 

Compliance with this standard will be phased in over the next several years:

  • All employers must meet the emergency response plan requirement by May 1, 2020.
  • Government must comply with all other requirements by May 1, 2020.
  • Public sector employers and large municipalities must comply with all other requirements by May 1, 2021.
  • Private sector employers (including non-profits) and small municipalities must comply with all other requirements by May 1, 2022.

While this means that many businesses will have three years to develop a compliance plan, it is never too early to start. We would be happy to assist you in developing your accessible employment policies.

PS – The Accessible Customer Service Standard creates an obligation for all organizations to provide accessible customer service. It had a compliance deadline of Nov. 1, 2018.

Melissa Beaumont is a lawyer with Thompson Dorfman Sweatman in Winnipeg, practicing in the areas of labour and employment law and human rights law. She can be reached at (204) 934-2515 or [email protected].

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