India: Businesses Must Publish Equal Opportunity Policy, Ensure Access to Premises

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By Madhur Singh

Businesses will be required to publish an equal opportunity policy for persons with disabilities under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017 released June 15. The rules implement provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 intended to bring Indian legislation into conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The rules must be posted on the employer's website or displayed prominently on its premises.

Details

Businesses employing fewer than 20 persons must mention in their policy the facilities and amenities provided to persons with disabilities “to enable them to effectively discharge their duties in the establishment.”

Those employing 20 or more persons must also include the following details in their policies:

  •  posts identified as suitable for persons with disabilities,
  •  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 and any other facilities, and
  •  provision of assistive devices and barrier-free access.

Businesses with 20 or more employees must also appoint a liaison officer to look after recruitment of persons with disabilities and the provision of facilities to them.

‘Benchmark' Disabilities

Although there is no stipulation for employing persons with disabilities, Section 35 of the act provides for incentives to employers to ensure that at least 5 percent of their workforce is composed of persons with “benchmark” disabilities (not less than 40 percent of a certain disability certified by a state- or district-level panel constituted by the state government for this purpose).

“The main obligation imposed by the act and rules on the private employers/establishment is to maintain an equal opportunity and nondiscrimination policy,” Ravi Singhania, managing partner at New Delhi-based S&P Partners told Bloomberg BNA in an email June 30, adding that the requirements are simple enough for most businesses to comply.

The requirement of accessibility may pose some difficulties for some old buildings, Singhania said, “but the same is a necessary change.”

Rules regarding some provisions of the statute, such as a requirement to register equal opportunities policies with specified government authorities, have not yet been released.

Government officials told Bloomberg BNA that the registration process would be initiated “in due course” once the ministry finalizes the procedures.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madhur Singh in Chandigarh at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

For more information on Indian HR law and regulation, see the India primer.

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