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LEGAL UPDATE-EC acts to close gaps in employment equality rules

EC acts to close gaps in employment equality rules 

The EU Commission has sent reasoned opinions to 10 Member States requiring them to implement fully EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of religion and belief, age, disability and sexual orientation.

The countries targeted by the Commission are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. They have two months to respond, failing which the Commission can decide to take them to the European Court of Justice. There are 4 main problem areas indicating significant gaps in protection against discrimination across a large part of the EU.

The problem areas are as follows:
 (1)  National legislation is limited in terms of the people and areas it covers, as compared to the Directive (for example: lack of protection in access to self- employment).

(2)  Definitions of discrimination which diverge from the Directive (in particular, in terms of indirect discrimination, harassment and instructions to discriminate).

Lack of proper implementation of the obligation for employers to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers.

Inconsistencies in the provisions designed to help victims of discrimination (such as the shift of the burden of proof, the rights of associations to assist individuals with their cases, and the protection against victimisation).

The Commission is preparing a report on the implementation of the Employment Equality Directive in the European Union, which is due to be published in the first half of 2008.


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