Equality has been a recurring theme in Europe after the European Parliament voted to strengthen the Equality Directive, and gave its approval to the EU action programme to combat discrimination.
The European Council meeting in Nice next month will for the first time include social exclusion on its agenda, after the commission published its proposal for a community action programme on the issue last month. The Nice summit will have to come up with clear and measurable targets to make any proposal workable and to satisfy the French Presidency which has made the issue a priority.
Equality directive strengthened
The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs proposes to include unpaid and voluntary work or official duties in the scope of the directive, as well as the acquisition of professional experience, health and safety, information and consultation, participation in trade union elections and access to social assistance.
An exception to anti-discrimination measures would be religious organisations where staff could be chosen on the basis of religious criteria with the proviso that the occupations concerned are directly linked to the organisation’s religious aims.
Parliament argues that objectively justified differential treatment on grounds of age is admissible provided it is strictly defined and necessary to achieve a certain aim.
Access to healthcare, welfare benefits and economic assistance are inadmissible areas of age discrimination for a disabled person.
Reasonable adjustment should be made in order to permit disabled people to benefit from services, programmes and employment opportunities.
Finally, the Parliament states that member states should repeal all penal code provisions which discriminate against homosexuals.
Boost for mobility in education
The European Parliament has issued an opinion stressing the need to remove legal, administrative, language, cultural and financial barriers to mobility in the education profession.
European Court of Justice rulings on employment issues
Working time for doctors
The ECJ has ruled that:
A salaried worker’s state pension cannot be reduced if their spouse is awarded a pension by another Member State.
Case reference C-262/97
Look out for:
Sustainable pensions in Europe – Commission Paper:
"The future evolution of social protection from a long-term point of view: safe sustainable pensions"
Did you know?
As part of the overhaul of the commission, the directorates have lost their historic and easily recognisable numbers and adopted titles denoting their full responsibilities, for example, the DGV is now the Directorate for Employment and Social Affairs.
It would seem inevitable these titles will be abbreviated for easy parlance – do we await the reintroduction of numbers as a means of identification?
By Susan Gibas secretary general of the European Human Resource Network, a cross-sectoral information network for European employers and HR strategists dealing with issues of employment and the labour market in Europe. Contact [email protected]