The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (‘new Act’) which came into force on 19 April 2017 replaced The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (‘old Act’). The new Act was enacted on the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and aims at encouraging establishments to have a disabled friendly workplace. To supplement the new Act, The Rights of Persons with Disability Rules, 2017 (‘Rules 2017′) were notified on 15 June 2017.
While the old Act was restricted to government controlled/aided establishments, the new Act has now brought private establishments within its ambit. The new Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, unless it can be shown that such act is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Compliance for Private Employers under the New Act:
Section 21 read with Rule 8:
Establishments are required to formulate an Equal Opportunity Policy (EOP). The EOP shall list out amenities provided to persons with disabilities, posts identified for persons with disabilities, the manner of selection of persons for such posts. The establishment is required to display the EOP preferably on their website, failing which, at conspicuous places in their premises.
If there are 20 or more employees, the policy should also set out the job roles within the establishment that are identified as suitable for PwD, the recruitment process for such roles, trainings provided for these roles. The policy should be registered with the authority appointed under the Act and should also be displayed on the establishment’s website.
Every establishment shall appoint a liaison officer to supervise recruitment of PwD and provision of requisite facilities if the establishment has 20 or more employees. The details of the liaison officer should be included in the policy as well.
Section 22 read with Rule 9:
Establishments shall maintain records containing details around the number of PwD employed, their date of joining, names, gender and addresses, nature of their disabilities, nature of work performed by them, and the facilities provided to them; and
Section 40 read with Rule 15:
Ensuring compliance with specified standards of accessibility relating to physical environment, transport and information and communication technology. These include ensuring that the building has elevator/ramps for the benefit of wheel chair users, adhering to a minimum width of walkways, ensuring that documents on the website are in optical character reader (OCR) PDF based format, etc.
This section further provides that no establishment should be issued a certificate of completion unless it has adhered to the accessibility norms formulated by the government. For existing buildings, the obligation is to adhere to these standards within 5 years from the notification of the Rules
Non-compliance with respect to any of the obligations under the new Act could result in the imposition of a fine of up to INR 10,000 in the first instance and for any subsequent contravention the fine shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees and may extend to five lakh rupees.