The law on the rights of people with disabilities of 2016 and the rules (for implementation) were recently enacted by the federal government. The new law protects disabled people in India from various forms of discrimination, guarantees their access to equal employment opportunities and improves their participation in society.
The Disability Law of 2016 is in line with the principles codified in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and replaces the previous legislation – Law on Persons with Disabilities (Protection of Equal Opportunities and Full Participation) of 1995.
This article highlights the main features of the new law and shows its impact on doing business in India.
Material Aspects of the Disabilities Act, 2016
The definition of a “disabled person” is expanded by the 2016 Act: it includes people with disabilities, people with benchmark disabilities and people with disabilities with high support needs. This definition is inclusive and categorizes 21 types of disabilities as “specific disabilities”.
The law applies to both state and private institutions. By law, private entities refer to a corporation, firm, cooperative or other corporation, association, trust, agency, institution, organization, union, factory, or other government-appointed entity.
The law obliges all institutions to draw up and publish a gender equality guideline. All forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities are prohibited unless it can be shown that such discrimination is proportionate and a necessary means of achieving legitimate ends.
The law offers additional benefits to people with benchmark disabilities, such as: B. vacancies in government institutions, educational opportunities, land allocation and poverty reduction systems.
In order to ensure speedy justice, special courts are set up in each district to deal with cases involving violations of the rights of people with disabilities. Penalties for violating the rights of a disabled person can be imposed up to a fine of US $ 7,750 (Rs 500,000) and up to five years in prison.
Important conformities according to the Disability Act
Although most of the conformities of the law apply only to state institutions, private institutions also fall within the scope of the law and must meet the following requirements:
- Create and publish an equality policy on the company’s website or in a prominent place on the company’s premises. The directive must provide details of the services and facilities available to disabled people in the workplace. A copy of the directive must also be registered with the State Commissioner.
- Establishments with more than 20 employees must appoint a liaison officer to monitor the recruitment of disabled people and the special facilities provided for them.
- Institutions need to identify vacancies that would be suitable for disabled people. In institutions that receive state incentives, at least five percent of the vacancies must be reserved for disabled people.
- The employer must ensure the prohibition of illegitimate discrimination against disabled people in the workplace.
- The employer must provide disabled workers with additional facilities or special services in order to improve their accessibility, such as B. Special leave and training programs.
- All facilities must meet government-set accessibility standards for disabled people. The accessibility standards relate to workplace infrastructure and communication technologies that must be accessible for disabled people.
- Every insured facility must keep records of its disabled employees.
Impact on doing business in India
Compliance with the Disability Act naturally includes the revision of the internal recruitment guidelines. For example, the company’s HR team must be careful to incorporate policies that benefit people with disabilities. In addition, companies can increase their profitability by strategically adapting their policies to the specific needs of disabled people.
Over the past few years, several private companies in India operating in the IT and service sectors have hired disabled people to fill various positions. In many cases, such hiring practices not only meet ethical conformities, but also make good business sense. Human resource managers have identified several benefits of hiring disabled people. Firms like IBM, Coca Cola, Google and Lemon Tree Hotels have developed dynamic workplaces after reforming their hiring practices.
The law also offers companies an additional opportunity to carry out their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities. Companies can devote more financial resources to mandatory CSR systems by providing benefits for people with disabilities.
Recruiting and retaining disabled people is an important ethical compliance, and HR managers must ensure that workplace and company policies promote a healthy work environment for disabled people.
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