New law makes it mandatory for Private Establishments to be “disabled – friendly”
With the coming into force of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017 (“Rules”) on 15th June, 2017, all establishments including private establishments such as a company, firm, cooperative or other society, association, trust, agency, institution, organisation, union, factory etc. will now be required to comply with the provisions of the new law.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (“Act”) received the President’s assent on 27th December, 2016 and is effective since 19th April, 2017. The Rules recently gained effect on 15th June, 2017. With this the provisions of the Act as well as the Rules are fully effective.
The Act and Rules are in addition to other laws in force in India, which essentially means that the applicability of other prevailing laws are not barred.
The earlier enactment governing protection of persons with disabilities was the “Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995”, which now stands repealed.
India is a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has ratified this Convention on 1st October, 2007. The Convention lays down the following principles for empowering persons with disabilities —
- respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
- full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
- respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
- equality of opportunity;
- equality between men and women;
- respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
To implement this Convention, the Act and Rules are enacted.
Compliances for private establishments:
Though the Act and Rules has prescribed several obligations on the part of Government establishments, State Government/s and local authorities, it will be interesting to understand the various compliances required to be mandatorily undertaken by private establishments:
|Publish / Notify an Equal Opportunity Policy for persons with disabilities||· Publish and notify an Equal Opportunity Policy (“Policy”) for persons with disabilities.
· Display the Policy preferably on the website, failing which, at conspicuous place in the premises.
· Register a copy of the Policy with the Chief Commissioner or the State Commissioner, as the case may be.
For private establishment having 20 or more employees the policy must include the following information:
· facility and amenity to be provided to the persons with disabilities to enable them to effectively discharge their duties in the establishment;
· list of posts identified suitable for persons with disabilities in the establishment;
· the manner of selection of persons with disabilities for various posts, post-recruitment and pre-promotion training, preference in transfer and posting, special leave, preference in allotment of residential accommodation if any, and other facilities;
· provisions for assistive devices, barrier-free accessibility and other provisions for persons with disabilities;
· appointment of liaison officer by the establishment to look after the recruitment of persons with disabilities and provisions of facilities and amenities for such employees.
For private establishment having less than 20 employees, the Policy must contain
· facilities and amenities to be provided to the persons with disabilities to enable them to effectively discharge their duties in the establishment.
|Section 21 r/w Rule 8
|Maintenance of records
|Maintain records of persons with disabilities in relation to the matter of employment, facilities provided and other necessary information
private establishment having 20 or more employees must maintain records containing the following particulars, namely:-
· the number of persons with disabilities who are employed and the date from when they are employed;
· the name, gender and address of persons with disabilities;
· the nature of disability of such persons;
· the nature of work being rendered by such employed person with disability; and
· the kind of facilities being provided to such persons with disabilities.
|Section 22 r/w Rule 9|
|Mandatory observance of accessibility norms
|No establishment will be granted permission to build any structure if the building plan does not adhere to the rules for persons with disabilities laying down the standards of accessibility for the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, including appropriate technologies and systems, and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas.
The standards that need to be followed are as follows:
(a) standard for public buildings as specified in the Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Persons with Disabilities and Elderly Persons as issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development in March, 2016;
(b) standard for Bus Body Code for transportation system as specified in the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, vide number G.S.R. 895(E), dated the 20th September, 2016;
(c) Information and Communication Technology- (i) website standard as specified in the guidelines for Indian Government websites, as adopted by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India; (ii) documents to be placed on websites shall be in Electronic Publication (ePUB) or Optical Character Reader (OCR) based pdf format:
Provided that the standard of accessibility in respect of other services and facilities shall be specified by the Central Government within a period of six months from the date of notification of these rules.
No establishment will be issued a certificate of completion or allowed to take occupation of a building unless it has adhered to the rules mentioned above.
|Section 40 and Section 44 r/w Rule 15|
|Time limit within which existing public buildings must conform to the Rules
|All existing public buildings shall be made accessible in accordance with the rules formulated by the Central Government within a period not exceeding 5 years from the date of notification of such rules:
The Central Government may grant extension of time to the States on a case to case basis for adhering to this provision depending on their state of preparedness and other related parameters.
“public building” means a Government or private building, used or accessed by the public at large, including a building used for educational or vocational purposes, workplace, commercial activities, public utilities, religious, cultural, leisure or recreational activities, medical or health services, law enforcement agencies, reformatories or judicial foras, railway stations or platforms, roadways bus stands or terminus, airports or waterways;
With a view to provide incentives to employers in private sector, the appropriate Government and the local authorities shall, within the limit of their economic capacity and development, provide incentives to employer in private sector to ensure that at least five per cent. of their work force is composed of persons with benchmark disability. [ Section 35 ]
Source: Ministry of Law and Justice