In this series, we delve into the XpertHR reference manual to find essential information relating to one of our features. This month's topic...
A European Directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation was formally adopted by the Council of Ministers on 27 November 2000, almost exactly one year after the European Commission first proposed it.
The directive, which must be implemented by member states by 2 December 2003, or 2 December 2006 in the case of its age and disability discrimination provisions, outlaws discrimination on a wide range of grounds, considerably extending the EU level framework for protection against discrimination.
All member states will have to introduce new laws in order to comply with the aims of the directive.
The purpose of the directive is to establish a general framework within the EU for protection against discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. It covers:
- Conditions for access to employment, self-employment or an occupation (including selection criteria and recruitment conditions in all branches of activity and including promotion)
- Access to all types and to all levels of vocational guidance, training, advanced vocational retraining and work experience
- Employment and working conditions, including dismissals and pay
- Membership of and involvement in a workers' or employers' employment organisation or any professional organisation, and any benefits provided by those bodies
Religion or belief
Discrimination on grounds of religion or belief includes discrimination on grounds of not belonging to a particular religious group, as well as discrimination on grounds of practising a particular religion. These provisions must be implemented by 2 December 2003.
The major impact in the UK of this part of the directive will be in providing increased protection against discrimination for the Muslim community. In respect of direct discrimination, it will allow claims to be brought by Muslim women, for example, who are subjected to harassment because of their attire.
As regards indirect discrimination, practices that fail to accommodate the need for time off to observe religious holidays will be subject to scrutiny.
There is a limited scope of de