Date June 21, 2017
Establishments now required to publish an equal opportunity policy for persons with disabilities

The Government of India recently notified the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017 (Rules) in the Official Gazette. The Rules are issued under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (Act), and were enacted to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and for related matters.

The Act and the Rules are applicable to every establishment including Government establishments and private establishments.

The Act defines certain key terms as follows:

(i) A “person with disability” means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.

(ii) A “private establishment” means a company, firm, cooperative or other society, associations, trust, agency, institution, organisation, union, factory or such other establishment as the appropriate Government may, by notification, specify.

Pursuant to the Rules, every establishment is required to publish an equal opportunity policy for persons with disabilities (Policy), and is required to display the same on its website, failing which, at conspicuous places within its premises. The Rules mandate that the Policy of (a) private establishments having 20 (twenty) or more employees; and (b) Government establishments, shall, inter-alia, contain the following:

(i) facility and amenity to be provided to the persons with disabilities to enable them to effectively discharge their duties in the establishment;
(ii) list of posts identified suitable for persons with disabilities in the establishment;
(iii) 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;
(iv) provisions for assistive devices, barrier-free accessibility and other provisions for persons with disabilities; and
(v) 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.

In cases of private establishments having less than 20 (twenty) employees, the Rules mandate that the Policy of such establishments shall contain facilities and amenities to be provided to the persons with disabilities to enable them to effectively discharge their duties in the establishment.

Additionally, every establishment is also required to comply with the following standards relating to physical environment, transport and information and communication technology:

(i) 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 issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development in March 2016;
(ii) 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, in September 2016;
(iii) website standard as specified in the guidelines for Indian Government websites, as adopted by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India; and
(iv) documents to be placed on websites shall be in Electronic Publication or Optical Character Reader based pdf format.

The full text of the Act and the Rules may be accessed at the following links, respectively:

http://www.disabilityaffairs.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/RPWD%20ACT%202016.pdf
http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2017/176728.pdf