Want to tap into this talented labour pool? Here’s how!
Discover community partners who are ready to help you, and programs and tools that can show you how to find, hire and retain persons with disabilities.
How to hire persons with disabilities
Hiring persons with disabilities is easier than you might think. If you are ready to make your workplace more inclusive, here are some steps to help you get started, as well as links to some tools and resources.
Make your workplace inclusive
- Get informed: Learn that disability is diverse and that many types of disabilities are invisible. Challenge what you may think disability should look like. Broaden your understanding of disability, learn how to use respectful language and take some disability awareness training.
- Make an inclusive workplace policy: Establish some guidelines about your organization’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility. What is your vision for your accessible and inclusive workplace? Your policy does not have to be complicated. Post your policy on your website.
- Find and remove barriers: An inclusive workplace is one where everyone has the tools and supports they need to succeed. Assess your workplace: Is the physical environment accessible for persons with disabilities? Do you offer flexibility regarding sick days, work location and job duties? Is the work culture inclusive or are there stereotypes and misconceptions?
Learn about and offer accommodations
- Learn about your duty to accommodate persons with disabilities: According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, employers have a duty to accommodate persons with disabilities in the workplace. This means that your business must adjust its rules, policies or practices to reduce discrimination and allow persons with disabilities to participate fully in the workplace.
- Get to know different types of workplace adjustments and accommodations: While not every person with a disability needs an accommodation, sometimes an accommodation would give an employee an equal opportunity to perform their work. Accommodations are often uncomplicated and may involve only a small change to the environment or to the way a task is performed. For example: Modified work duties, flexible work hours, adaptations to work equipment or workspace.
- Develop a workplace accommodation policy: Once you identify how to make your workplace more inclusive and accessible, make it part of your company’s culture: Develop a workplace accommodation policy outlining your employees’ rights and responsibilities in respect to workplace accommodations and adjustments. Here is an easy-to-use template to help you.
Recruit candidates with disabilities
- Write inclusive job postings: When writing a job posting, decide which qualifications are essential, rather than including a long wish list that may discourage candidates with disabilities from applying. Use plain language, avoid jargon and offer to provide the job posting in different formats.
- Share about your commitment to inclusion and diversity: Let candidates know that you are an inclusive employer. In your job posting or on the company website, list what workplace accommodations and adjustments you can offer persons with disabilities. Also include a statement encouraging persons with disabilities to apply, and specify that accommodations can be provided upon request during the recruitment process.
- Find a community partner: Many local organizations offer specialized services to help employers hire employees with disabilities. They are publicly-funded and provide employment services for free. They provide support to employers to recruit, select, hire and retain persons with disabilities, including job matching services. Specific service providers may vary from region to region.
When you are ready to start recruiting persons with disabilities, advertising your job on the Government of Canada’s Job Bank will allow you to:
- Make sure your job posting is easy to read by picking from thousands of pre-defined options.
- Attract candidates by indicating that you are interested in hiring persons with disabilities.
- Highlight the accommodations available in your workplace.
You can also connect with qualified candidates with disabilities on WORKinkTM, a paid platform for employers to promote job postings to candidates with disabilities.
Conduct inclusive interviews
- Choose an accessible interview location: When possible, offer candidates the option to conduct the interview remotely over the phone or online. If the interview must be in person, provide clear instructions about where to meet. Is there accessible transportation or parking available? Is the building accessible?
- Ask all applicants if they have any accommodation needs: Be prepared to adjust interview location, format and materials. Being flexible is key.
- Focus on ability: Interviews should be consistent for all applicants. Ask all candidates the same job-related questions. Focus on how applicants will apply their skills to perform the job rather than perceived limitations. Do not ask questions that require anyone to disclose their disability.
- Be welcoming and open-minded with all candidates: Be aware of personal bias that can influence decision-making. Avoid making assumptions about a person’s disability or assuming limitations that may not exist.
Onboard and retain employees with disabilities
- Find support from a community partner: If needed, local organizations can offer consultation and help with integrating new employees with disabilities.
- Be prepared: Ensure supervisors and co-workers know the employee’s needs. Give awareness training if needed to create a positive and welcoming environment. Make sure that any accommodations you discussed with the employee are in place. Provide onboarding information (job description, benefits, safety procedures, company policies, etc.) to each new employee in a format that is appropriate to their disability.
- Focus on inclusive performance management: When it comes to performance management, employees with disabilities must meet the same job standards and requirements as other employees. However, you should still adapt the supervision of each employee to their specific needs. Set clear performance goals, stay current on the employee’s accommodation plan and differentiate between performance-related issues and disability-related needs. Be flexible and open to suggestion from the employee: a person with a disability knows their strengths and limitations better than anyone and may be able to tell their manager how they could do their job more effectively. Foster an inclusive workplace culture and open communication.
Get help from community partners
From workplace adaptations to creating a more inclusive workplace, community partners can help you employ persons with disabilities.
Community partners can:
- Work with you to understand your labour needs
- Remove barriers by helping to ensure your recruitment process is inclusive
- Provide training for you and your employees
- Help match you with qualified candidates in your community.
- Support workplace accommodations
To find and connect with a partner organization near you:
- Search your local 211.ca for disability employment service providers, or
- Find lists of disability employment partners here:
Find benefits and programs
The following employment benefits, financial supports, and allowances may be available to you when you hire a person with a disability.
- Find out whether some disability-related employment benefits are taxable
- Learn about eligible expenses that may be tax-deductible for disability-related modifications
The following Employment and Social Development Canada programs further support the creation of accessible workplaces.
- The Enabling Accessibility Fund is available for projects that make Canadian communities and workplaces more accessible
- Wage subsidies are available through the Student Work Placement Program to help hire post-secondary students
- The Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program funds sectoral projects helping employers attract and retain a skilled workforce that includes members from equity-deserving groups
- The Canada Summer Jobs Program, part of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, provides funding for not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers, and businesses with 50 or less full-time employees to create summer job opportunities for youth
- The Apprenticeship Service provides targeted support to employers who hire first-year apprentices in eligible Red Seal trades, and additional funding to eligible employers who hire from an equity-deserving group, including persons with disabilities
Find our what financial incentives and disability employment programs are available in your area:
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