European Commission raps UK over anti-discrimination laws

Anti-discrimination laws in the UK aren’t up to scratch, said the European Commission (EC), which has begun legal action against the UK.

It announced recently that it had sent a Reasoned Opinion – the first step in its legal process – to the government highlighting areas of anti-discrimination regulation in which it said the UK is deficient.

These cover discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of gender, where the EC said the UK’s laws are not compliant with the Equal Treatment Directive.

“The definition of indirect discrimination is too narrow,” said the EC “as it does not cover potential discrimination. The exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sex for certain jobs are too wide.

“The exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination for office-holders in political institutions are not defined with sufficient precision,” said the EC statement. “And the right of associations to support victims of discrimination before the courts is not established with sufficient clarity.”

The EC also said exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sex for certain jobs are too wide.

The government said it will be “studying the Reasoned Opnions carefully and will reply to the EC towards the end of January. The Equality Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 18 November so will be continuing its progress through Parliament during the fifth session.”

The government has two months from the end of November to respond to the complaints.

Denmark, too, has been sent a Reasoned Opinion regarding its equality provisions.

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