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Home >> out of the menu >> Projects for engaging duty-bearers

PORTUGAL - Manual for prevention and combat harassment at the workplace

August 18th 2014


At the beginning of 2012 CITE - Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment, represented by its President, started to coordinate a tripartite working group within its tripartite commission, comprised of representatives of the social partners, of the Secretary of State for Public Administration and the Secretary of State for Equality, Labour Inspectorate (ACT), Directorate General for Employment and Labour Relations (DGERT) and Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG), with the goal of designing a manual for prevention and combat harassment at the workplace, targeting companies.

The working group met six times over 12 months. CITE assumed the responsibility of being the working group rapporteur.

The working methodology was divided into several phases:

  • Study of Community legislation;
  • Study of national legislation;
  • Study of comparative law;
  • Analysis of international good practices;
  • Preparation of a proposal;
  • Discussion of the proposal;
  • Vote on the motion.

The manual for prevention and combat harassment at the workplace, its structure and contents having been agreed between all parties, was put to vote and approved, in March 2013, by majority although the social partners representing the employers voted against it.

CITE’s structure, which is of tripartite and equilateral composition, ensures the independence of its decisions because all members have the right to vote and each vote is of equal worth.

The manual for prevention and combat harassment at the workplace is a guide of self-regulative nature, and may be used as guidance to companies wishing to set up systems and procedures to prevent harassment in their workplaces.

This is an informative manual aiming to be an instrument to support companies of all sectors and size, public or private, that want to pursue, voluntarily, an active policy in order to prevent, combat and eliminate harassment in the workplace.

The main and ultimate goal of this guide is not to create new duties for employers, private or public, but solely contribute to its clarification - and their workers - about sexual and moral harassment on the workplace

This guide is a tool that aims to support, in a simple way, the identification of harassment and inspire the building of procedures to prevent and combat such phenomena in the workplace, which can only be achieved in practice with the commitment and cooperation between representatives of the employer, public or private, and the representatives of the workers, who, together, should whenever possible include in this cause the services of safety and health at work.

PORTUGAL - Equality is Quality Award

August 18th 2014

In order to encourage employers in achieving gender equality, CITE – Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment, launched in 2000 the Equality is Quality Award (now at its 10th edition). This award is given to companies and other employers with policies in the area of gender equality and the reconciliation of personal life, family and work. Since the 8th edition the award is a joint initiative between CITE and CIG - Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality.


The award is considered prestigious and since its first edition about 190 companies and other employers have already applied for it. The candidates nominees can be awarded with the 1st prize or with an honors prize. 38 enterprises/organisations have received awards since the launch: 18 first prize and 36 honors prizes.

The awarded can use this prestigious distinction to promote themselves as enterprises/organisations which are non-discriminating and gender equality friendly.

The award is valid for 2 years.

The award applications are reviewed and evaluated by an external evaluation team which has the following duties:

  • to check if the applications and the data/documents sent are correct;
  • to analyse and score the answers to the questionnaire;
  • to analyse the data/documents send with the questionnaire;
  • to visit the enterprises/organisations to interview the management and the workers representatives;
  • to write reports to be submitted to the Award Jury.

The evaluation team writes an evaluation report for each applicant. These reports are based on the use of an analysis tool that comprises a set of dimensions, practices and indicators which are scored according to the company’s performance.

These evaluation reports are submitted to a Jury consisting of 18 judges from different organisations; 8 judges as members of CITE and the presidents of CITE and CIG, that coordinate the Jury. Each member of the jury is entitled to one vote.

In case of a tie, the coordination of the Jury is entitled to a casting vote.

The Award Jury is composed of representatives from Public Administration Bodies, Professional Assocations, Social Partners and representatives from Government.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The duty bearers of the Equality is Quality Award are:

1. Companies, public and private:

In Portugal, state owned companies/companies which are public undertaking must have an Equality Plan, applying the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 70/2008, which provides policies and measures of equality and fight against gender discrimination, especially from the point of view of human resources management. The policy instrument that fits this requirement is the National Action Plan for Equality, Gender, Citizenship and Non-discrimination, coordinated by the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG).

On 8 March 2012, the Council of Ministers Resolution No. 19/2012 determined the adoption of equality plans for public companies and stated the balanced presence of women on boards of directors.

The Act makes a recommendation to the private sector companies, publicly listed, to adopt the same policies.

2. Public administration (state indirect administration, i.e. public institutions and organisations which are under the autority of a Ministry but aren’t directely managed by it)

Public Administration bodies have to promote and implement the principle and culture of legality;

Public administration bodies are subjected to act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic which enshrine gender equality as a fundamental principle;

They also has to ensure compliance with legislation regarding equality and non discrimination at work, as well as the promotion of gender equality of the collective labour agreements.

Main objective of the project

Equality is Quality Award is a prestigious award that has as strategic objective to combat discrimination and promote equality between women and men at work, in employment and vocational training and the conciliation of work and family life.

Its specific objectives are:

  • Distinguish companies and entities that perform or promote positive action in the area of gender equality and quality in work, employment and vocational training;
  • Publicise the various types of exemplary cases and measures in this area, which have been taken by organisations, by informing and raising awareness among managers and the general public as to the nature of these measures and the importance of these areas;
  • Promote the adoption of specific measures to improve the quality and equality between women and men at work, in employment and vocational training and to improve the quality of work, namely with regard to the conciliation of work, family and private life, by giving increasing visibility to these sectors and to the organisations which include these objectives in their overall management.
  • Create demand among the public towards the consumer preference for goods and services with total quality, which requires compliance with the applicable legislation, including on gender equality.


  • Information and awareness raising
  • Engagement and provision of practical support

CITE realised that companies and organisations lacked information about what gender equality is and how they can act to get policies and measures more gender equal.

Every announcement of the launch of the Equality is Quality Award’s new edition as well as its regulation are tools of information about gender equality in companies.

The assessment made of the award applications, with its analysis of the data/documents send with the questionnaire, the visit to the companies/organisations to interview the management and the workers representatives and the written reports about the finds, is a process of providing support to the applicant in what concerns the analysis of the measures and policies implemented and is a way of engaging it as well.

Key achievements

The most important achievements of the Equality is Quality Award are:

  • Awareness of companies about the importance of gender equality;
  • Enhance the promotion and implementation of gender equality measures in companies/organizations;
  • Demonstrate the competitive advantages of gender equality for companies/organizations;
  • More accurate knowledge about the situation of Portuguese companies with regard to gender equality.

Key challenges

The most important challenge identified is to ensure that companies/organizations reflect on their own reality in terms of the situation of women and men in order to gain a new perception/awareness of the company/organization situation, enabling acting to achieve gender equality objectives, as well as to fit to the prize objectives.

The assessment of the situation of the company/organization made by the award evaluation team is an audit process that guides company’s/organization’s reflection.

This process can and has led some companies to apply again to the Equality is Quality Award, already with new improvements over their previous situation regarding gender equality.

PORTUGAL - Appraisal of the legality of collective bargaining provisions and of the arbitration award

August 8th 2014


Under the powers provided for in article 479º of the Labour Code and article 3º, paragraph i) and j) of the organic law of the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment - CITE approved by Decree-Law No. 76/2012, 26th of March, which consists in the appraisal of the legality of collective bargaining provisions and of the arbitration award in mandatory and necessary arbitration proceedings, both with regards to their compliance with equality between men and women in labour requirements, whenever there is suspicion of discrimination, as required by Labour Code, CITE is, since April 2011, coordinating a working group within its tripartite commission, comprised of representatives of the social partners, of the Secretary of State for Public Administration and the Secretary of State for Equality, Labour Inspectorate (ACT), Directorate General for Employment and Labour Relations (DGERT) and Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG), to do the following tasks:

  • Appraisal of all collective agreements (IRCTn), in the first 30 days after its official publication, or arbitration awards (DA) published in the Bulletin of Labour and Employment (BTE) fortnightly and drafting legal opinion on each of the applicable contractual provisions containing evidence of discrimination on the grounds of gender or by infringement of the legal regime of parenting.
  • Meeting of the tripartite working group for decision making, followed by drafting of a reasoned opinion to be sent to public prosecutor in order to promote a judicial procedure to declare such clauses null and void and to eradicate them from the collective agreement.

Making use of this legal power, the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment - CITE has already instigated several claims regarding collective agreements and some actions have been brought before the Courts by the public prosecutor in that respect.

Social partners showed some discomfort resulting from the fact that they were being faced with lawsuits, incurring in expenses, such as legal costs and court fees. However, from a legal point of view, the social partners did not contest the position of CITE’s tripartite commission and the clauses declared null and void by the courts were eradicated from the collective agreements.

Considering this discomfort of the social partners but also the conviction of the majority of CITE’s members about the unlawfulness of some of the clauses in the collective agreements related with equality between men and women and the need and importance of changing this scenario, reinforced by court decisions on this subject, CITE decided to make a proposal to the Ministry of Labour to undertake a legislative amendment in order to change some procedures of this legal power.

It was proposed that, after the appraisal of the collective agreements and decision about the unlawfulness of certain clauses by the tripartite commission, the social partners would have 60 days to assess and change the clauses that themselves recognised as illegal and republish the amended collective agreement in the Bulletin of Labour and Employment (BTE).

This legislative amendment came into force on 1 August 2012 (Law n.º 23/2012, 25 of June). After this change the working group within CITE tripartite commission has also the following tasks related with the appraisal of the collective agreements:

  • Preparation of reports for prior hearing regarding clauses that may be considered illegal, and which the parties may challenge or promote its change within 60 days.
  • Preparation of recommendations to the parties to amend the clauses where there are inadequacies to the legislation, i.e. terminology, phrases or wording of clauses that although can not be considered illegal are inadequate to the law or new legal concepts of gender equality and parenting.

Almost a year over this legislative change, CITE can say that it was very timely and with good results, since all parties that have been notified by CITE to amend collective agreements clauses have been available to do it voluntarily and republishing the amended collective agreements in BTE.

CITE also noticed that the collective agreements that were recently published or republished in BTE and that had never been appraised by CITE, the clauses regarding gender equality and parenting have been written according to the legal rules.

In conclusion, the result of this tripartite work is that more collective agreements have been published without unlawful clauses regarding equality between men and women which reflects the increased awareness of the social partners to this subject within the collective bargaining.

IRELAND - Research on business-case for equality

August 8th 2014


In Ireland and at EU level it is increasingly recognised that pro-active workplace equality and diversity strategies must play a central role in developing non-discrimination policy beyond legislation. Research on the business case for equality strategies is a key driver for action by employers in this area and has therefore been a key priority for the Equality Authority over a number of years. Four major studies – all carried out by leading academic researchers – have been published to date [1].

In 2005 the Equality Authority published Equality at Work? Workplace Equality Policies, Flexible Working Arrangements and the Quality of Work [2]. This study analysed data from a 2003 National Workplace Survey of over 5,000 employees in Ireland. It found that having an equality policy in the workplace was strongly associated with:

  • lower levels of work stress, and
  • higher levels of both job satisfaction and organisational commitment.

In addition, employees who worked in organisations that had implemented equality policies were much more likely to consider that opportunities for recruitment, pay and conditions, and opportunities for advancement and career development were fair and equal in their organisations.

In 2007 the Equality Authority published The Business Case for Equality and Diversity: the International Evidence [3] which reviews and synthesises existing international research. This study found that organisations see performance outcomes from equality and diversity initiatives in four inter-related areas:

  • Human capital benefits such as the ability to resolve labour shortages and recruit and retain high calibre staff.
  • Increased market opportunities with access to more diverse markets.
  • Enhancement of organisational reputation to suppliers, customers and prospective and existing employees.
  • Changes to organisational culture such as improved working relations and reductions in litigation.

Importantly it also found that the success of equality and diversity initiatives “depends on their integration into both the organisation’s strategy and its culture so that they shape the way in which business is undertaken and the ways in which individuals work.” (page 6)

New Models of High Performance Work Systems: the Business Case for Strategic HRM, Partnership and Diversity and Equality Systems [4] was published in 2008. This study drew on a specific survey of 132 medium to large companies in Ireland. It found that active management of equality and diversity was positively associated with measurably better business performance – specifically with higher levels of labour productivity, business innovation and employee retention.

Most recently in 2011 the Equality Authority published ‘Workplace Equality in the Recession? The Incidence and Impact of Equality Policies and Flexible Working’ [5]. This study draws on data from the National Workplace Survey 2009, collected after Ireland had entered a deep recession. Overall this report finds that the positive outcomes identified in the 2003 survey and reported above are confirmed in 2009:

  • The presence of an equality policy is associated with lower levels of work pressure and work-life conflict.
  • Equality policies are associated with higher job satisfaction and higher employee commitment to their place of work.
  • An important new finding is that equality policies are also associated with higher levels of output innovation in the previous two years, as reported by employees.

Thus it is clear that formal equality policies continue to be associated with benefits for both employees and the organisations they work for – despite the very different conditions that now prevail in the Irish economy and labour market. It therefore seems clear that companies that capture these benefits through proactive equality and diversity strategies are strengthening their prospects for recovery and future growth.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)


Employers must not discriminate in

  • advertising jobs
  • pay
  • access to employment
  • vocational training and work experience
  • terms and conditions of employment
  • promotion or re-grading
  • classification of posts
  • dismissal
  • collective agreements.

Employers must not harass or sexually harass an employee and must prevent an employee from being harassed or sexually harassed by a client, customer or other business contact.

Employers are required to take appropriate measures, where needed in a particular case, to enable a disabled person to have access to employment, to participate or advance in employment and to undergo training, unless the measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer.

Employers are vicariously liable in relation to discriminatory acts of their employees, unless the employer took reasonably practical steps to prevent the discrimination.

Employers are permitted to take positive action measures with a view to ensuring full equality in practice between employees, on all nine discriminatory grounds specified in Irish equality legislation.

Main objective of the project

The objective of the project was to develop the empirical evidence base in Ireland on the impact of equality and diversity strategies on the performance of firms and organisations.

Note that over the years the Equality Authority has implemented a wide range of programmes and actions aimed at encouraging and supporting employers to put in place planned and systematic approaches to workplace equality. The building of a specific evidence base on the business case for pro-active workplace equality and diversity strategies was early identified as a key driver for action by employers in this area.



The main objective was to build the empirical evidence base in Ireland on the impact of equality and diversity strategies on the performance of firms and organizations. Thus research was necessarily a central tool. The decision to pursue research in this area was also influenced by (a) the fact that existing data sets (the National Workplace Surveys of 2003 and 2009) already contained data that it was possible to reanalyse for the project; and (b) another State agency – the National Centre for Partnership and Performance, which had a mandate to promote workplace modernisation and considerable expertise in research on firms and workplaces – was willing to join as a partner in two of the research studies.

Key achievements

The Equality Authority’s research on the business case provides robust empirical evidence that active management of equality and diversity is positively associated with measurably better business performance. These findings have been taken up widely by employer and business organisations in Ireland and have been cited internationally [6].

The Equality Authority’s research has also highlighted that proactive equality and diversity strategies entail important benefits for employees – and not just those who are members of “at-risk groups” – in terms of reduced work related stress and increased job satisfaction. Indeed – as this gives rise to greater organisational commitment – this is an important channel though which the benefits to the company are brought about. This important finding has also helped secure the support of worker organisations for proactive workplace equality and diversity strategies.

Key challenges

A key challenge was access to data. As noted above, the decision to pursue research in this area was influenced by the fact that existing data sets (the National Workplace Surveys of 2003 and 2009) already contained data that it was possible to reanalyze for two of the four reports carried out to date. This was essential as the equality body could not have borne the costs of collecting these data in the first instance.

[1The reports discussed here and all our other published research reports can be downloaded at

[2Philip O’Connell and Frances McGinnity (2005) Equality at Work?: Workplace Equality Policies Flexible Working Arrangements and the Quality of Work. Dublin: The Equality Authority

[3Kathy Monks (2007) The Business Impact of Equality and Diversity: The International Evidence. Dublin: The Equality Authority and the National Centre for Partnership and Performance

[4Patrick C. Flood, James P. Guthrie , Wenchuan Liu, Claire Armstrong, Sarah McCurtain, Thaddeus Mkamwa and Cathal O’Regan (2008) New Models of High Performance Work Systems: The Business Case for Strategic HRM, Partnership and Diversity and Equality Systems Dublin : The Equality Authority and the National Centre for Partnership and Performance. See also Claire Armstrong, et al., ‘The impact of diversity and equality management on firm performance: beyond high performance work systems’, Human Resource Management, vol. 49, No. 6, pp. 977–998 November/December 2010

[5Helen Russell and Frances McGinnity (2011) Workplace Equality in the Recession? The Incidence and Impact of Equality Policies and Flexible Working Dublin: The Equality Authority and the Economic and Social Research Institute. This project was co-funded by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS (2007-2013)

[6See European Commission (2011) Realising the Business Benefits with European Diversity Charters: Managing Diversity at Work. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union

IRELAND - Regulation of further education providers

August 8th 2014


The Equality Authority worked with FETAC, the agency overseeing further education in Ireland, to develop equality requirements for its quality assurance standards for the sector. This has resulted in a requirement on all education providers to develop equality policies as a condition of registration as a certified provider of further education and training.

The Further Education Support Service (FESS) of the Department of Education and Skills worked with the Equality Authority and key further education organisations to develop a resource to provide guidance for providers of further education and training on complying with the FETAC standard. The resource provides advice and templates on:

  • developing an equality action plan;
  • undertaking an equality audit of services;
  • preparing an equality policy for learners and service users.

The Equality Authority has established a panel of equality experts that further education providers can use to support them to undertake training or equality planning and to insert equality processes into the design and delivery of their programmes.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The duty bearers that we targeted are the providers of further education. Under the equality legislation, these duty bearers must not discriminate in the provision of further education on nine grounds:

  • gender,
  • civil status (that is, being single married, divorced, widowed, in a same-sex civil partnership, or having previously been in a civil partnership),
  • family status (being a parent of a person under 18 or have responsibility as a carer for a person with a disability),
  • age,
  • religion,
  • sexual orientation,
  • race,
  • disability, and
  • membership of the Traveller community.

The Further Education and Training Council was established by law to make awards in the further education sector in Ireland and to certify providers of further education. FETAC developed quality assurance (QA) standards for providers of further education, covering issues such as programme development, delivery and review; communications; assessment of learners; etc. Equality is one of eight areas that are named in the FETAC QA framework. Accredited providers of further education must provide equality training to their staff and must have an equality policy.

The FETAC documentation states:

Programmes of education and training and related services should be delivered in a manner that accommodates diversity, combats discrimination and promotes equality of opportunity. Delivery agencies should have an institutional capacity and commitment to combat discrimination, to accommodate and make adjustments for diversity.

Equality Policy(ies) should be prominently displayed and circulated to all. Responsibility for implementing the policy(ies) should be assigned with procedures for implementation and handling discrimination complaints.

A provider’s Equality Policy should express its commitment to equality in employment and service provision and anti harassment.

Main objective of the project

The main objective of the project was to work in partnership with FETAC to insert equality requirements into its standards for the further education and training sector by inserting an equality requirement into FETAC’s Quality Assurance process for further education and training providers.


The tool chosen was “co-operating with regulatory bodies”. The objective was to embed equality requirements in the requirements places upon providers of further education in order for them to be accredited.

Key achievements

The inclusion of equality in the national standard has ensured that all further education and training providers must take action on equality. As a result, it has prompted education providers to change their practices and to integrate equality into their way of working.

Key challenges

A key challenge identified is a risk that the action on equality may become a ‘tick box exercise’ if it is not driven by a commitment to equality within the education provider itself. Education and training providers need access to equality supports in order to comply with FETAC requirements and to embed equality within their institutions. The Equality Authority has established a panel of equality experts who can provide direct supports to the sector to implement equality actions. The Equality Authority also worked with the Further Education Support Service (Department of Education and Skills) to develop a resource to support providers in implementing the equality requirement within Quality Assurance.

SWEDEN - Discriminatory practices in the health sector

August 8th 2014


During 2010 and 2011 the Equality Ombudsman had a special focus on the health sector with the purpose of identifying and putting light on discrimination and discriminatory practices in the health sector. The Ombudsman cooperated closely with key stakeholders, including the National Board of Health and Welfare. A report describing the findings was published earlier this year by the Equality Ombudsman. The National Board of Health and Welfare during 2011 also produced a broader report on equality in health care where they identified similar problems with discriminatory treatment and inequality in the health care sector. One of the main problems identified was shortcomings in how individuals seeking health care were treated when contacting providers of health care.

Based on these reports the Swedish government tasked the National Board of Health and Welfare with developing training material and training-courses for duty bearers in the health sector and their staff. The government provided funds amounting to 4 million SEK for this purpose. In this effort the board is instructed to cooperate with the Equality Ombudsman in order that issues related to discrimination and equal rights and opportunities are taken into consideration when developing the material.

The training material should target personnel working in the health sector and should focus particularly on how individuals are treated and the information they receive when they seek and get medical treatment. The material will include information about the anti-discrimination legislation, about the problems of discrimination in the health sector and methods that health care providers can use to address problems and ensure equal rights and opportunities. The project should also develop a pilot project for testing and evaluating the training material and training-courses.

The work started in October 2012 and have been reported to the government by 30 September 2013. The next step is to test the effectiveness of the material in a small number local and regional hospitals and other types of health care wards, and this is going to take place during Spring and Autumn 2014.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The National Board of Health and Welfare is a government agency under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, with a wide range of activities and many different duties within the fields of health, medical services and social services. The agency has supervisory powers in these fields and develops standards based on legislation. Their activities focus on staff, managers and decision-makers in the abovementioned areas.

The National Board of Health and Welfare is not targeted as a duty bearer. The project is run jointly by two supervisory bodies to ensure that the output is of the highest quality. The duty bearers that are ultimately the target of the project – health care providers – have a duty under the Discrimination Act not to discriminate individuals because of their sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.

The Equality Ombudsman is engaged in a National Platform for Equal Access to Health and Healthcare. Within this network arena some duty bearers and some professional trade organisations (altogether 15-20 organisations) in the health care sector cooperates to arrange national public conferences about equal access to health care, and joint workshops to highlight and disseminate new methods and knowledge to the actors in the network. In this work the Equality Ombudsman has the possibility to use the lessons learned from the government project with the National Board of Health and Welfare.

Main objectives of the project

The long term objective is to improve how individuals are treated when seeking health care and to ensure that the medical needs of the individual is the focus in these contacts. The training material and the training courses should increase the awareness among health care providers and their staff of relevant legal requirements in the field and to provide concrete advice concerning working methods. The short term objective of the Equality Ombudsman is to ensure that the material produced in a correct way relates to the discrimination act and the protected discrimination grounds.


The Equality Ombudsman cooperates with a regulatory body (g) in order to provide advice and guidance to duty bearers in the health sector (e). In its report on health care the Equality Ombudsman identified a number of measures to be taken at different levels to address the problems in the health care sector. One of the proposals pointed to the need to increase awareness through trainings among health care providers and their staff about legal requirements and other matters related to discrimination and equality. Based on this proposal the government requested the National Board of Health and Welfare to carry out the project.

Key achievements

The project has raised the knowledge and understanding of the questions at stake both within the work of the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Equality Ombudsman. Some of the result is presented at the National Conference for Equal Access to Health Care 21 March 2014. After testing the written material will probably be disseminated in different ways into big parts of the health care system in Sweden.

Key challenges

By chance the Equality Ombudsman had a very good cooperation with the responsible staff at the National Board of Health and Welfare. Thus, the main challenge was the short amount of time (in reality) allocated to the project. The production, with the reference groups and all the meetings, had to be made in 7 months.

IRELAND - Primary school equality review

August 8th 2014


The project is to develop a method for undertaking an equality review in a primary school to enable an equality action plan for a school to be prepared. An equality review is an audit of the level of equality that exists in an organisation, business, etc. An equality action plan is a programme of actions to be undertaken in an organisation to further the promotion of equality.

Education has been identified as a priority area for the Equality Authority. The Irish equality legislation prohibits discrimination in the provision of education, and the Equality Authority has seen a high level of legal complaints concerning schools.

The project has two phases:

  • The first phase was development of a draft model or resource, under the advice of the key partners in the primary education sector. The model and resource were developed by a team consisting of four primary teachers with expertise in aspects of equality (gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, membership of the Traveller community) and with experience in a range of primary schools and roles in primary schools (classroom teacher, principal, former inspector, language support co-ordinator, etc.).
  • The second phase is testing or piloting the draft model in a small sample of schools and revising the model in light of that learning.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The primary duty bearer in this piece of work is primary schools. According to the equality legislation, schools must not discriminate in

  • the admission or terms or conditions of admission of a pupil,
  • the access of a pupil to any course, facility or benefit provided by the school,
  • any other term or condition of participation in the school, or
  • the expulsion of a student or the application of any sanction against a student.

The draft model and resource goes beyond these obligations in two ways. First, it seeks to examine how well the school incorporates a focus on equality in its work. Second, in addition the four areas listed above, it examines equality in

  1. school policies,
  2. school decision-making procedures,
  3. the content of the curriculum,
  4. the extra-curricular activities, and
  5. educational attainment.

A potential secondary duty bearer for this project in longer term is the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills. The Equality Authority hopes that implementing the model of undertaking an equality review in a primary school can provide an evidence base for the Inspectorate to include elements of it in their systems and standards for school evaluation.

Main objective of the project

The main objective is to develop and test a model that can be applied in the future.


This project would be classified as “Engagement and provision of practical support”.

This was chosen because the purpose is to develop a model and resource that schools can engage with. In particular, it seeks to present framework for examining equality in a school that is based on how schools operate, using the Irish legal and policy framework and the curriculum for Irish primary schools, with the equality situation across those areas assessed and needs identified.

Key achievements

The key achievement is the development of a model of undertaking an equality review that is designed specifically for Irish primary schools. It takes the legal and administrative framework and the curriculum that Irish primary schools use and identifies how equality fits within those components.

Key challenges

One key challenge appears to be the understanding of equality terms and concepts. The information gathered from the piloting of the draft model and resource suggests that, for example, differences between “non-discrimination” and “equality” are not always understood, and the meaning of some of the discriminatory grounds in the Irish equality legislation was not always correctly understood. This becomes a particular challenge in measuring the situation, because people are not able or not willing to answer questions during the process without being given information on the meaning of those questions, but the act of providing that information changes the situation.

SLOVAKIA - Discrimination and discriminatory practices in the field of labour law

August 8th 2014


In the year 2013 Slovak National Centre for Human Rights (SNCHR) focused specifically on the field of labour law relations with a focus of identifying and clarifying discrimination and discriminatory practices in the field of labour law. Educative events laid particular emphasis on questions falling within the substantive scope of Anti-Discrimination Act – for instance forms of discrimination, reasons for prohibiting discrimination, and exemptions from the principle of equal treatment, legal obligation to adopt measures for protection against discrimination or means of legal protection in cases of discrimination.

The National Labour Inspectorate (NLI) is a government agency under the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family. Through the European Social Fund, the NLI managed to organize an expert seminar targeting its employees on topic of discrimination and equal treatment principle. The Centre lecturers were asked to cooperate and give professional lectures for employees of NLI – inspectors of labour. Courses were primarily focused on vocational education in the following fields of law: equality and non-discrimination. Topics of courses were related to regulations from labour law legislative and also to detection of discrimination in working relations.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

NLI controls and coordinates labour inspection in Slovakia. Labour inspection at the employers’ watches over adherence to labour law regulations, regulations on safety and health protection during labour, adherence to regulations in the field of social legislative in transport and adherence to prohibition of illegal employment and illegal labour. It also examines circumstances of accidents at work.

National Labour Inspectorate was not targeted as a duty bearer. The duty bearers that were ultimately the target of the project – employers – have a duty under the Anti-Discrimination Act not to discriminate individuals because of their sex, religion or other belief, race, nationality or ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status and family status, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin.

Main objectives of the project

Implementation of whole project will markedly improve performance of labour inspection. Continual vocational education of labour inspectors is one of the preconditions of efficient conduct of inspection. The objective of the project was to foster legal awareness of labour inspectors in the questions of discrimination and in the field of violations of Anti-Discrimination Act and to contribut to a more efficient detection of discriminatory conduct in the field of labour law. The objective of education of inspectors was to ensure that during inspection of labour they will actively influence employers in order to improve situation in monitored field and also to ensure that they would inform employers, employee representatives and employees themselves about rights and duties in the field of equal treatment in labour law relationships.


In the educational activities we combined interactive and participative education with „traditional” methods of education. Theoretical inputs were therefore combined with Professional presentations. (d, e, g).

Key achievements

The project was realized at the end of November 2013.

ROMANIA - “People with intellectual disabilities do have rights!”

August 8th 2014


During 2011, NCCD in partnership with Institute for Public Policy, a nongovernmental organization whose aim is to support an increase the quality of the processes related to the development of public policies in Romania, carried out the project “People with intellectual disabilities do have rights!”. The project was co-financed by the European Commission PROGRESS Programme (2007-2013).

The project started with the documentation regarding the current policies and practices related to the employment of the persons with disabilities in both public and private fields of activities. After an extensive analysis of the legal framework including the text of the recently ratified UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities by the Romanian Parliament, the Institute for Public Policy (IPP) team questioned 41 big municipalities from each county council in Romania and from Bucharest, 41 General Directorates for Social Assistance from the local and Bucharest level, 13 ministries, the members of the National Council for Combating Discrimination and the ones of the Deputies Chamber and the Senate, the representatives of the Romanian Presidency and the ones of the Ministry of Labour (Directorate for Protecting Persons with Disabilities) about how many persons with disabilities have they employed, what are the tasks that were assigned to these persons, what kind of alternative solutions they adopted in the absence of persons with disabilities hired in the institution.

IPP experts also questioned a representative sample of 106 private companies and NGOs from the entire country in order to take into consideration their separate opinions about the chances that persons with disabilities have in finding a suitable job in Romania.

After the very complex documentation that was implemented in the first half of the project, the project team debated the preliminary conclusions in the format of local and national based debates after which they finalized one of the main deliverable project ‐ a comprehensive Diagnosis study. The material has been published and disseminated at the national level, by the two partners.

The experience gained during the initial activities referring to information gathering for carrying out the study on the employment environment for persons with disabilities proved to be very useful for the preparation and carrying out of the three round tables at regional level. These have been carried out in three different cities.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The project targets the national policy makers but also public and private employers as well as private service providers/NGOs.

The Romanian legislation sets a number of responsibilities in this respect which are applied equally to the public and private sector. Those whose employees’ number is more than 50, must either to employ a certain percentage of persons with disabilities or pay a certain amount to the overall State Budget.

They also have a duty under the Discrimination Act not to discriminate individuals because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, social category, beliefs, sex or sexual orientation, age, handicap, non contagious chronic disease, HIV infection, belonging to a disfavoured category, as well as any other criterion.

Main objectives of the project

The goal of the project was to endorse the development of coherent policies to combat discrimination and promote equality of opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities in Romania, by increasing the level of awareness of public opinion on abusive restrictions of the right to labour and self-determination of these persons, through the analysis of the current situation in our country from this perspective and identifying some tools for the relevant actors in the society (responsible authorities, NGOs active in the field of disability and human rights, employers, representatives of target groups).

Also the main objectives of this project were :

  • To provide a thorough assessment at national level of the current situation of employment of people with mental disabilities in Romania and limitations imposed by the national legislation.
  • To foster the dissemination of information on EU policy and legislation in the antidiscrimination field related to disability as well as on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that Romania ratified.
  • To advocate for changes in legislation and practices on the labour market in Romania in order to facilitate a better inclusion of people with mental disabilities.


In the first part of the project a study-diagnosis of the employment environment of persons with disabilities in Romania was made (c). On the occasion of round tables organized at regional level and in Bucharest have been initiated debates starting from the presentation of the current situation of employment of persons with disabilities, as it resulted from the study (h). Also, support‐materials were distributed on the legislation of prevention and combating of discrimination in Romania and EU, other studies and reports regarding the implementation in Romania of the EC Directives implementing the principle of equal treatment (b).

A very important component of the project has been conceiving and implementing the media campaign for raising awareness on discrimination of persons with intellectual disabilities from Romania. After completion and acceptance of the video and audio materials, the campaign was disseminated on the most important public TV and radio channels. In parallel, the video clip was popularized on the social networking websites and viewed and distributed on magnetic media on the occasion of certain NCCD’s actions or of its project partner, IPP.

Key achievements

  1. An objective and comprehensive evaluation of the situation of persons with disabilities in general and of those with intellectual disabilities from the perspective of the employment environment in Romania
    • this evaluation has emphasized the weight of persons with disabilities employed in the public sector in Romania, both within central public administration and at regional level (local)
    • the analysis carried out overviewed the current legal framework regarding the access of persons with disabilities on the labour market and formulated a series of proposals and recommendations, especially as regards to active measures to stimulate the labour market, in view of attracting persons with disabilities to employment
    • the study achieved also presents the perspective of private employers, identifying the most widespread causes why they do not employ persons with disabilities, the main reasons but also their level of appreciation regarding the legal and fiscal incentives granted by the state for the employment of such persons
  2. Conduct and implementation of a media awareness campaign among the Romanian population, regarding the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities, starting from the situations of rejection, marginalization and discrimination these persons are subjected to, taking into account their difficulties in effectively participating to the economic, social or cultural life.
  3. Identification of the main obstacles that are faced with locally both the authorities competent for enforcing legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities in general and of those with intellectual disabilities in particular and non‐governmental organizations active in this area and formulation of proposals of public and legislative policies.
  4. Inclusion, as a result of activities conducted by the project partners of certain relevant provisions in the new law of social assistance adopted by the Romanian Parliament at the end of last year, in order to harmonize this regulatory document with European and international legislation and initiation of procedures of public consultations regarding the amendment of the framework‐law on the protection of persons with disabilities.

Key challenges

The main conclusions of the round tables showed that while the nongovernmental organizations, especially those in the social field, made important steps in offering opportunities for persons with disabilities, the public sector and the private companies’ opportunities are almost inexistent. The private companies insisted that the Romanian policy makers have not taken into consideration that fee market principles when drafting the legislation while the public sector seemed not to act accountable to their constituents. The participants insisted that apart from the legislation, the best practices have a significant impact upon those with potential of offering jobs and that those practices need to be disseminated as wide as possible.

ROMANIA - Training of the specialists from the adoption and post-adoption departments regarding non-discrimination

August 8th 2014


In time, the Romanian Law of adoptions had many and important changes , which highly affected the category of children who were going to be adopted.
During 2011 and 2012 N.C.C.D., in partnership with the Romanian Office for Adoptions, has developed this project aimed to increase the number of adoptions for the children belonging to the category of those that are hard to be adopted, by preventing discriminatory attitudes against them.

The project targeted the case managers within the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection from the metropolitan area (Bucharest and surroundings – Ilfov.)

These case managers were trained by specialists of N.C.C.D. in preventing discrimination – with a focus point on human responsibility, knowledge of the legislative and legal non-discrimination framework in Romania – information and specific examples, but they have also debated upon the concrete cases they deal with.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The project targeted the case managers within the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection because they are the ones who investigate the cases of children separated from their biological parents (children for whom they make an individualized protection plan, whose final purpose is the adoption).

The case managers are the binding, the connection between the biological/extended familiy, the adoptive family( the possible one), the authorities and the adopted child.
These are facing with complex situations and with very different social categories.

Regarding their obligations, from the moment a child is considered to be legally adoptable, the case managers are responsible for the adoption to take place legally, rightful, with the respect of non discrimination principle regarding the case management and final adoption.

Main objective of the project

The overall objective of the project was to inform and train the specialists who come in direct contact with children and their biological/extended family in order to respect the principle of non-discrimination. All the children who meet the legal requirement for an adoption proceeding must have the equal opportunities to benefit of it.

The specific objectives of the project were:

  • theoretical and practical knowledge regarding discrimination and adopting the estetical perspective of diversity
  • prevention of discrimination acts against children and the biological/extended family
  • reducing the intolerance level towards those categories of children with specific particularities : Roma children, older children and those with physical or mental disabilities.
  • reducing the intolerance level towards certain biological/extended families with certain characteristics: Roma families, illiterate families and families with disabilities.


The project was structured in two training modules and a final debate ( d ). Evaluation questionnaires were applied, which will be taken into consideration in the possible future projects.

We mention that the project developed in 2012 is a result of the project that took place in 2011 and of the expectations of participants.

Key achievements

The key achievements of this project were

  • A better understanding of the fundamental human rights and awareness of our own role in preventing intolerance and discrimination attitudes.
  • Increasing the number of children with completed Integrated Safety Plan which leads to an increased number of adoptions.

Indirect beneficiaries of this project:

  • About 1500 children from the protection system
  • About 1500 biological/extended family
  • Analysis of data collected and needs of further training for the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection employees.

Key challenges

The project revealed the need of a school for parents who want to adopt a child.

GREECE - Low Income Women’s Use of Legally Available Tools for the Protection of their Rights

August 8th 2014


The objective of this research is to discover the relationship between the personal income of women and their ability to claim their rights, through the use of legally available instruments (i.e. courts, police, independent authorities, equality bodies, etc). It is of particular interest to investigate this relationship because a basic feature of social exclusion is a person’s/group’s inability to exercise or tο claim rights, services and benefits.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The target is the equality body itself, as it has a duty to promote equal treatment to all and to secure that all vulnerable to discrimination citizens/groups have access to the generally available goods and services.

Main beneficiaries of this project are considered to be:

  • Women, working or unemployed;
  • Immigrant women;
  • Low pensioners, patients, users of health services, persons living on or below the poverty line;
  • Pregnant women or mothers;
  • Women victims of discrimination on the basis of their gender.

Main objective of the project

To investigate if/how low income status affects women’s power to claim their legally protected rights.


  • Research
  • Information and awareness raising
  • Advice and guidance

The nature of the project to a large extent determines the tools which are chosen. The purpose of the project is to gather data. Therefore it was decided that empirical research, in the form of surveys, will be conducted in two phases. In the first phase there will be a co-operation of the Authority with the Hellenic Statistics Authority for the collection of the needed data. The latter agency, in its regular bi-annual survey on poverty, will include specific questions on the subject matter (I.e., income of women and claiming of rights).

In the second phase, a 5 month long empirical research (structured interview questions) will be carried out, by an independent research team, at the premises of the Authority. In this part of the research the opinions of randomly selected individuals, from those who seek the services of the Authority, will be gathered and examined.

Based on the findings of the research, the Authority will embark on a series of activities aimed at providing information, advice and guidance, awareness raising, to both the members of the affected target groups and of the general public.

Key achievements

To raise awareness about the role income plays in accessing the legal instruments for the protection of the rights for women. Based on the conclusions of the research there may be proposals for policy changing pertaining to better access of low income women to available remedy tools.

The Greek Ombudsman expects that the outcome of this research will enable the Authority:

  • To map and reach out to the categories of women who belong to economically weak and socially excluded groups. These groups are, presumably, the ones which have the greatest need of the Authority’s services;
  • To gather evidence pertaining to the use, by low income status women, of the available legitimate instruments for exercise of their legal rights and benefits.
  • To strengthen the role of the Authority as the main body for providing information and assistance to these women;
  • To further expand and analyze the conclusions arrived at through the research, in order to disseminate the information acquired to the decision making bodies and to the general public, altering thus attitudes and policies on this issue;
  • To promote interaction and participation of the subjects concerned and the public services involved at various levels.

In addition, there may be other technical objectives which may be reached:

  • Enrichment of the Authority’s data base
  • Familiarization, promotion, and optimization of the technical expertise acquired during the implementation of the project for future use.

Great Britain - Women On Boards Project

August 8th 2014


In 2011 the EHRC commissioned Cranfield School of Management to carry out the first in-depth study to examine the corporate Board appointment process, how it operates in practice and the role of executive search firms (ESFs) in this process. A particular emphasis was placed on what was being done to make Boards more gender balanced. It followed the recent Davies Review which called upon executive search firms to take on a more active role in increasing gender diversity on FTSE boards.

In 2011 research showed that women were underrepresented on FTSE Boards with only 12.5 per cent of directors of FTSE 100 Boards and 7.8 per cent of directors of FTSE 250 Boards were women. Moreover, only 32 per cent of FTSE100 companies disclosed the number of women directors on their Boards. The business case for gender diversity on boards relates to four key dimensions

  • improving performance
  • accessing the widest talent pool
  • being more responsive to the market
  • and achieving better corporate governance

The report reveals that many chairmen and search firms recognise that gender diversity should be increased at board level. Search firms have introduced a voluntary code of conduct and had some success at getting more women on long lists. But when it comes to short-listing and appointing, successful candidates tend to be those who are perceived as ‘fitting in’ with the values, norms and behaviours of existing board members, who are largely men.

The report identified examples of good practice at executive search firms, but concludes that a more transparent, professional and rigorous approach to the selection process would allow chairmen and search agencies to appoint more female candidates and encourage more women to consider applying for roles as non-execs.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The duty bearers targeted were:

  • SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises);
  • Large employers

Main objective of the project

The main aim of the project is to set standards for fairness and transparency in non-executive appointments and for board appointments to always be made on merit, with the best qualified person getting the job.


The tools chosen were "Information and awareness raising’ and "Research". The EHRC commissioned Cranfield School of Management to carry out research into the new search code of conduct developed by the executive search firms working in the sector to highlight why women were under-represented on Boards.

Key achievements

Whilst the research revealed good practice amongst certain executive search firms (ESFs), it also revealed a lack of consensus with regards to the appointment process. To tackle this, the report makes recommendations including:

  • as intermediaries in the executive labour market, executive search firms need to set clear definitions as to what is sought from board candidates, beyond their experience.
  • executive search firms, chairmen and nomination committees need to review the interview process to make it more transparent, rigorous and professional.
  • executive search firms need to invest more time into developing relationships with women in the pipeline who could become executive or non-executive directors later in their careers.
  • executive search firms need to carry out regular reviews of the effectiveness of the voluntary code of conduct.

Other recommendations based on the evidence reviewed and the interview findings are:

  • More transparency and documenting of best practice and initiatives around gender diversity by ESF’s are needed. Not all search firms invest the same effort into documenting and formalising best practice internally.
  • Search firms, Chairmen and Nomination Committees need to pay additional attention to the interviewing practices employed during the appointment process. Some of the interviews conducted by Chairmen and other Board members in the appointment process lack rigour and are consequently focused on subjective aspects such as fit and personal chemistry. There is a need for more transparency, rigour and professionalism in the way that Chairmen and other incumbent board members conduct selection interviews.
  • When assessing candidates, Chairmen and Nomination Committees need to shift the emphasis from prior experience to underlying competencies.
  • ESFs need to invest more time into developing relationships with women in the pipeline. There needs to be a shift in the way that search consultants engage with (potential) female candidates.
  • ESFs and Chairmen need to be more willing to take on developmental roles during the appointment process and beyond, in order to ensure that there are more women NEDs.
  • Investors need to play a bigger role by putting pressure on companies to have gender-balanced Boards.
  • Board openings need to be publicly advertised in order to increase the transparency of the appointment process
  • There needs to be more emphasis on having women in executive roles. Several ESFs stressed that the executive and non-executive pipelines of female talent are closely related and argued that companies should support women’s careers in order to ensure that sufficient women come through at the top of their executive ranks.

Great Britain - Working with the Thames Valley Police

August 8th 2014


The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) came into force on 5 April 2011. The duty covers the nine protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) uses a range of strategies to ensure compliance with the equality duty including:

  • gathering intelligence on the duties;
  • advice;
  • information and promotion;
  • legal action on the duties;
  • building capacity with partners to promote compliance;
  • legal powers;
  • assessments;
  • compliance notices;
  • judicial review;
  • interventions and agreements.

In May 2011 the EHRC entered into a binding agreement with Thames Valley Police Constabulary regarding their disproportionate use of stop and search powers with black and minority ethnic (BME) groups. This followed an earlier warning given to the forces after the publication in 2010 of the Commissions report, Stop and Think. This found that some police forces were using stop and search powers in a way that was disproportionate and possibly discriminatory.

The Commission’s comprehensive review of the use of stop and search powers across England and Wales over the past 10 years showed black people were still at least six times as likely to be stopped and searched compared to white people. Asian people were around twice as likely to be stopped and searched compared to white people.

The report found that Thames Valley Police had significant and persistent race differences in their use of stop and search.

The Commission monitored the force over 18 months to see if there was:

  • A reduction in the figures for race disproportionality in the use of its stop and search powers
  • A reduction in the number of excess stop and searches carried out on black and asian people
  • The force taking action to ensure that the powers are being used in a non discriminatory and lawful manner
  • Force taking action to reduce their race disproportionality ratios
  • Force collaborating and sharing good practice with their neighbours.

The Commision’s intervention focused on working with the police to develop an intelligence-based use of stop and search powers rather than one based on racial stereotypes. In September 2012 the EHRC was able to end it’s formal agreement with Thames Valley Police as they have met the criteria for improvement. The force has reduced the significant and persistent race differences in stop and search. In addition, its stop and search detection rates have gone up; and there is not any apparent adverse effect on crime levels.

In June 2013 the Commission published Stop and Think Again, a new report which is the follow up to Stop and Think. The new report gives an overview of the detailed work we have done with five police forces, including Thames Valley police and as such sets out good practice examples of how these forces tackled excess and disproportionate use of the power to stop and search. The overall tone of the report is positive and shows that if stop and search is used proportionally and intelligently the police can protect the public, reduce crime and disorder and improve relations with black and ethnic minority groups. There is no evidence to suggest that targeting black and Asian people disproportionately reduces crime.

The Commission has been greatly encouraged by the efforts of the police forces involved and plans to use this work to illustrate what forces can achieve by respecting human rights and discrimination law, while making better use of stop and search across the police service. They also believe this project has created a best practice blueprint with positive measurable results for other forces to follow.

This was an example of where, through effective partnership working we were able to make a real difference in an area that wasn’t specifically included in the Duty, but which was a priority to BME groups, whilst also improving the operational performance of the force.

Great Britain - Inquiry into recruitment and employment in the meat processing and poultry processing sector project

August 7th 2014


The food and drink manufacturing industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK with the meat and poultry sector being a significant part of this. Overall, migrant workers make up 70% of agency staff in processing firms and over one third of their employees.

The EHRC received evidence that agency workers were treated differently to directly employed workers in terms of pay and conditions and their treatment at work.

In 2008 the EHRC used its powers under s.16 of the Equality Act to conduct a formal inquiry. The inquiry gave the EHRC the opportunity to examine how people working in this industry are recruited, and how they are treated once they are at work. Through questionnaires, interviews and consultation with individuals and organisations the EHRC was able to gather broad and authoritative evidence that has formed the base of the findings report.

The inquiry report, published in March 2010, revealed evidence of the widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers. Significant numbers of workers reported physical and verbal abuse and a lack of proper health and safety protection, with the treatment of pregnant workers a particular concern. EHRC found that many workers had little knowledge of their rights and feared raising concerns would lead to dismissal. While migrant workers were most affected, British agency workers also faced similar mistreatment.

The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories - some of which supply the UK’s biggest supermarkets - and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions which flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.

One of the Inquiry recommendations was that EHRC should review the progress made by the sector in 12 months time. In November 2012 EHRC launched the findings of our review "Meat and poultry processing inquiry review" which is a report of the findings and recommendations.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The duty bearers targeted were:

  • SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises);
  • Large employers

Main objective of the project

The main objective of the project was to encourage and support change in the sector, including supermarkets, labour providers, processing firms, government, regulators and unions, specifically to improve the working conditions for migrant and agency workers.


The tools chosen were "Legal (enforcement)", "Advice and guidance" and "Engagement and provision of practical support". The EHRC initially used its powers under s.16 of the Equality Act (2006) to conduct a formal inquiry and published the Inquiry report in March 2010 which revealed evidence of widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers in the sector. It also prioritised engagement with key stakeholders throughout the inquiry in order to fully understand the sector context and make practical, workable recommendations. It reviewed the progress the sector has made 12 months after the report and reviewed the findings in November 2012.

Key achievements

Through the EHRC’s work with the industry since the launch of the Inquiry and the information, the Commission has reviewed there is clear evidence there have been a number of successful developments in the industry.

  • Following the launch of the inquiry, the EHRC set up and facilitated a Taskforce of the main stakeholders in the industry to encourage and support the sector to make changes voluntarily. Industry bodies and all of the major supermarkets (Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Co-operative Food, Waitrose and M&S) have developed and adopted a set of management practices and Key Performance Indicators focused on areas of concern raised by the Inquiry. These have been rolled out by supermarkets across their meat and poultry supply chain with a view to using them across all of their food processing suppliers in the future. These are aimed at ensuring improved working practices across the sector.
  • The EHRC has worked with the Association of Labour Providers (ALP), a task force member, the Institute of Community Cohesion, and Coventry University to draw up a training programme for firms specifically to address issues raised by the inquiry. The Co-operative supermarket is piloting this training with plans to roll it out across its supplier base.
  • The ALP has also produced two toolkits in order to address problems highlighted in the Inquiry report, in collaboration with the Co-op supermarket, which have been distributed to labour providers and producers: “Identifying Migrant Worker Maltreatment” and “Communicating with a multi-language workforce”
  • The inquiry recommended improvements in supermarket auditing systems. As a result of engagement with the EHRC, Asda, the second largest UK supermarket and task force member, is auditing all of its meat suppliers, focusing on issues raised in the Inquiry report and putting in corrective action plans, with a follow-up re-audit in 6 months’ time. Thus far, 27 suppliers have uncovered 400 issues of concern, a very significant increase on the number of issues picked up by audits before the inquiry reported. Further, over 1,000 staff have been moved from temporary to permanent status.
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the body responsible for the regulation of workplace health, safety and welfare, has published new guidance for its inspectors based on the inquiry findings. It is intended as a source of intelligence for operational planning and guides inspectors to concentrate on the range of health and safety issues highlighted in the EHRC Inquiry report.

In November 2012 EHRC launched the findings of the review "Meat and poultry processing inquiry review" which is a report of the findings and recommendations.

The review highlights clear signs of progress, which EHRC is pleased with, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment. There have been significant improvements made in some areas: pregnant workers are treated significantly better, workers are no longer segregated by nationality or suffer physical abuse; British workers interviewed no longer experienced difficulties registering with agencies due to their nationality.

There are still some challenges in some organisations such as management coercion and threatening behaviour. Job insecurity is still too common for agency workers, despite improved legal protection. Although there are clear signs of progress, further action is still needed by processing firms and agencies to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and with respect.

The EHRC’s recommendations from the review of the Inquiry intend to
reduce the causes of vulnerability for all workers, hold organisations to account in meeting equality and human rights standards, promote equality, human rights and good relations.

The recommendations are:

  • Discrimination and coercion - work agencies and processing firms should provide training to recruitment consultants and managers
  • Audits - supermarkets look at additional methods of collecting confidential evidence from all workers at audits. This might include interviewing individuals away from production lines and without the presence of managers,
  • Supermarkets requiring higher standards from their suppliers - they should work more closely with suppliers to develop sustainable approaches to ordering which supports a more balanced and manageable work flow
  • Service Level Agreements with labour providers - with agencies which specify how agency workers should be treated.
  • Training - processing firms should provide supervisors and managers, particularly first line managers with appropriate training to enable them to operate in a way that promotes equality and cohesion and respects the dignity of workers.
  • Helping workers to raise issues of concern - provide workers with a confidential and well-publicised process for raising issues of concern in a language they understand
  • Promoting integration and more effective working and reducing vulnerability through English language provision - workers are more likely to attend English language lessons when they are provided at the factory and are either subsidised or free.
  • Recruitment - agencies adopt a comprehensive equal opportunities policy.

The findings in the report should enable the sector to learn from each other, be able to share good practice to improve the working conditions of agency and migrant workers.

Great Britain - Equality Information Monitoring Project

August 7th 2014


The Equality Act 2010 replaced the race, disability and gender equality duties with the public sector equality duty (PSED) on 5th April 2011.The new equality duty covers the nine protected characteristics set out in the Act:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion and belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

The project explored how public authorities in England performed with regard to the specific duty (to publish equality information) in the first year of implementation. The deadline for meeting this specific duty was 31 January 2012 for all the listed public authorities.

The assessments were conducted between February and April 2012. The websites of public authorities were reviewed, to assess to what extent they had published relevant and accessible information.

The evidence that was collected was to serve as a starting point to measure progress on the specific duty, and to serve as a useful baseline for public authorities across a range of sectors.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The duty bearers we targeted were all the public authorities in England. The EHRC conducted 1113 assessments covering the following sectors:

  • All police forces (39)
  • All probation trusts (34)
  • All universities (130)
  • Colleges (A sample of 115 out of 345)
  • All local authorities (353)
  • All health & social care providers (258)
  • All NHS commissioners (144)
  • All listed national organisations (40)
  • Government departments

The general equality duty requires public authorities in all their functions to have due regard to the need to

  • eliminate discrimination and harassment
  • advance equality of opportunity and
  • foster good relations

The specific obligations these bodies have in England are too:

  • Publish information to demonstrate compliance with the general. This must include, in particular, information relating to people who share a protected characteristic who are its employees and people affected by its policies and practices. Public authorities with fewer than 150 employees are exempt from the requirement to publish information on their employees.
  • Prepare and publish one or more objectives that it thinks it needs to achieve to further any of the aims of the general duty

Main objective of the project

The aims of the monitoring project were to:

  • Identify whether equality information could be found at all and if so, how accessible the information appeared to be;
  • Determine how comprehensive the equality information was;
  • Establish whether there were differences in performance and/or approach amongst public authorities and sectors;
  • Identify and disseminate examples where authorities have adopted effective approaches which could be reproduced by others.


The tools chosen were "advice and guidance" and "engagement and provision of practical support". The EHRC initially published guidance to help public authorities decide what equality information they needed to publish to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty.

The Commission undertook an assessment of the information published by public authorities (not including schools) between February and April 2012.

Key achievements

EHRC published a report, "Publishing equality information: Commitment, engagement and transparency", which sets out the findings of the assessment.

The report not only looks at performance on the specific duty, but it also sets out what good practice looks like. The report concludes with a number of recommendations for public authorities on how to improve their performance.

The EHRC recommends that public authorities publish their equality data in line with the following best practice criteria:

  • all equality data should be up to date
  • all equality data should be available on line
  • equality information should be easy to find, ideally in one place
  • equality information should cover workforce and potential and actual service users
  • equality information should be clearly explained with facts and figures supported by a clear narrative
  • equality information should cover all protected characteristics, acknowledge information gaps and identify how these will be addressed.
  • equality information should include evidence of how the impact on equality is assessed
  • equality information should be accessible to everyone, being available in alternative formats and ideally in different languages.

The EHRC’s recommendations for all public authorities are:

  • review the findings in this report and take steps to publish their equality data in line with the above best practice criteria
  • identify areas where they have not collected, used or published equality information, but where other authorities in their own sector are doing so
  • consider how their own performance compares with the performance of other authorities in the sector
  • review the practice examples in this report and any on the Commission’s website
  • consider where it would be appropriate to improve their equality data collection and over what time scale
  • engage with staff and service users about how useful they have found their published equality information to be and where any improvements can be made
  • put in place clear plans for any shortcomings
  • remember that meeting the specific duty is not an end in itself but a mechanism for improving performance on the general equality duty.

The findings in the report should enable public authorities to learn from each other, be able to share good practice and to improve the quality, extent and clarity of the equality information that they produce and publish, in order to improve their equality outcomes.

Key challenges

A key challenge was trying to find and access the equality information easily on the public authorities website which was a lot more time consuming than envisaged.

GERMANY - Thematic years

August 7th 2014


FADA decided to select one ground for discrimination every calendar year on which to focus its research and public relations work. FADA does this in alphabetical order. In 2012 FADA proclaimed the thematic year against age discrimination, 2013 the focus was on people with disabilities, and in 2014 it is against racism and discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

Within the thematic years FADA works closely with NGOs involved with the specific theme. Parts of the project are aimed specifically at employers and other stakeholders (social partners, political parties, academics that work in that field).

Main objective of the project

The Project shall raise the general public’s awareness for the different grounds for discrimination. The research shall give suggestions for possible ways to reduce discrimination.


One of the main aims of this project was Information and awareness raising. Research is being published that focuses on the specific ground of discrimination. Within the thematic year against “Age Discrimination” FADA appointed a committee of experts (social partners, academics, NGOs and political parties, etc), that submitted proposals and recommendations to reduce age discrimination in Germany.

Key achievements

In 2012 for example, the committee of experts recommended a reduction of age limits in volunteering, a review of collective agreements and age limits and the total abolition of earnings limits on early retirement. Also, it advocated for the reduction of inequalities in care.

GERMANY - Campaign in support of a non-discrimination society

August 7th 2014


FADA supports 10 local counselling networks and intensifies their networking with FADA on the one hand and networking between individual counselling centers on the other hand. FADA launched a ’Coalition against Discrimination’ with the Laender and local governments.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

FADA targeted the Federal Laender, the local authorities and non-governmental organizations.

Main objective of the project

In coordination with the Federal Laender, the local authorities and non-governmental organizations, FADA’s aim was for persons affected by discrimination to be able to get quick and competent support.


FADA gave trainings for the 10 local counseling networks and provided them with information on how to handle public relations for their networks. A sustainable support of affected persons and the combat of discrimination also requires a strong commitment at Land and local government level. That’s why FADA thinks it is important to enhance the co-operation with the Laender and local governments.

Key achievements

Subsequent to Berlin, Hamburg, Brandenburg and Bremen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thueringen, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Baden-Wuerttemberg have joined the ‘Coalition’. They have signed the declaration of intent entitled ’Campaign in Support of a Non-Discriminatory Society’. This agreement aims at organising joint efforts against discrimination, supporting local contact points and counselling centres and ensuring that the protection against discrimination will be enshrined in the policy of all sectors.

Key challenges

FADA couldn’t get all the Laender to join the ‘Coalition’ against discrimination and is still working on that.

GERMANY - Diversity mainstreaming for public authorities

August 7th 2014


In co-operation with the public authorities of the Laender of Brandenburg and Hamburg, as well as the local governments of Stuttgart and Nuremberg, FADA carried out the project ’Verifying (Equal) Opportunities Right Away – Diversity Mainstreaming in Public Authorities’ from November 2010 until December 2011. A selection of administrative staff from the fields of human resources work and lobbies were given the opportunity of exchanging their experience as well as building a network.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The project was aimed at public authorities of the Federal Laender and municipalities. The Federal Laender and the local authorities play a central role in implementing the protection against discrimination – both in their capacity as employers and also as providers of services for a heterogeneous population.

Main objective of the project

The project aimed at supporting public authorities of the Federal Laender and municipalities in the best possible implementation of protection against discrimination.


Part of the research for mainstreaming equality and diversity was an investigation

  • within the partner administrations
  • on which tools implementing equal rights in states and municipalities already exist
  • the experiences made with those
  • the prospects for approaches across target groups.

To provide that information for other public authorities FADA published a project report and two thematic publications on the topics ’Diversity Mainstreaming’ in and by Institutions of Public Administration. They provide recommendations for administrative staff on the issue of how diversity processes may be triggered at and by public authorities. Those publications were met by far more demand than FADA had anticipated. The follow-up activities being planned include a survey on the guide for administrative staff and a follow-up workshop to continue with the exchange of experience. The Aim of that workshop would be to publish a FAQ List on the topic with answers from the workshop.

Key achievements

The project illustrated how to examine experience gained from strategies to achieve equal opportunities in and by public authorities and which prospects are offered to firmly establish policies for a variety of target groups.

GERMANY: Depersonalized application procedure

August 7th 2014


Particularly people from a migrant background, elderly job-seekers and women with children are frequently discriminated against in the course of application procedures. Starting out from the positive experiences gained in other countries, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) started a nationwide pilot project in Germany in November 2010 in which various enterprises, public bodies and local authorities have been testing depersonalised application procedures. It is important that the invitation to a job interview is exclusively extended on grounds of a person’s qualification. Therefore, depersonalised applications first of all do neither feature a photograph of the applicant, nor his/her name, address, date of birth nor any data relating to age, civil status or origin.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

Employers were targeted. Employers have to ensure that discrimination does not take place. In addition, they are obliged to take measures against employees who discriminate against other colleagues. The possible measures for this purpose range from a transfer to another post over a reprimand up to a dismissal.

Main objective of the project

Depersonalised applications do not provide absolute protection against discriminations, but they may help to reduce them. From a statistical aspect, discriminations occur in particular at the first stage of application procedures, i.e. before an invitation to a job interview is extended. In the case of depersonalised application procedures, it is all about this very first chance.


During its entire duration the pilot project was scientifically monitored and subsequently evaluated. FADA still places its hopes in voluntarism and persuasiveness, not in legal regulations. That is why FADA published a guide for employers on depersonalised application procedures and will offer five workshops for interested employers.

Key achievements

FADA is very pleased with the interest the pilot project aroused. It intended to prompt enterprises to reconsider the culture of job applications they had so far. Several of the parties involved want to apply partially or completely depersonalised procedures also in the future. FADA is in contact with various enterprises and public employers that consider implementing depersonalised application procedures. Furthermore FADA advises the federal Laender Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Hamburg and various municipalities on their own ongoing or announced pilot projects.

Key challenges

At the beginning of the pilot project many employers were skeptic towards depersonalised application procedures. By providing more information on the procedures FADA feels like many employers became more open to the idea and started questioning their own application procedures.

FRANCE - Discrimination against pregnant workers

August 7th 2014


An awareness raising campaign mainly consisting of a leaflet explaining the rights and the duties of the pregnant workers and their employers, mainly within the private sector, also attracting claims and support of the Defender of Rights in case of litigation.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The targeted duty bearers are the employers and the HR managers, mainly in the private sector.

In terms of obligations, the relevant European legal framework is composed of the 92/85 and 2006/54 EU Directives.

The Law no 2006-340 of 23 March, 2006, on Equal Opportunities expressly mentions the ground of discrimination based on pregnancy (article 13). It has been introduced in article 225-1 of the Penal Code and in article L1132-1 of the Labour Code.

  • Articles 225-1 and 225-2 of the Penal Code punish discrimination on the basis of pregnancy committed against a person, by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of EUR 45,000. The discrimination may consist of the refusal to hire, the sanction or the dismissal of a person (3°) or subjecting an offer of employment, an application for a course or a training period to a condition based on pregnancy (5°).
  • Article L. 1132-1 of the Labour Code prohibits discrimination within the field of private employment when hiring or dismissing an employee, or for any other measure adopted during the course of an employment contract. According to this provision, no one may be denied access to a recruitment process or training period, no employee may be punished, dismissed, or discriminated against, either directly or indirectly, as far as his/her remuneration, classification, promotion is concerned in particular, on pregnancy.
  • The pregnant worker is also protected even if she is under a probation period (Court of Cassation 16 février 2005).
  • According to Articles L 1225-4 and L 1225-5 of the Labour Code, Dismissal is prohibited during pregnancy, where this has been medically certified, during maternity leave (whether or not the worker uses the right to take the leave), as well as during four weeks after the end of maternity. Dismissal is nonetheless permitted in case of a serious fault of the worker unrelated to pregnancy, or when the employer is unable to maintain the contract of employment for reasons unconnected with pregnancy, confinement or adoption. However, the dismissal or notice of dismissal may not take place during the periods of maternity and adoption leave. Violating this rule will result in any termination being invalid.
  • Not only the notification of a decision to dismiss on the grounds of pregnancy and/or of the birth of a child during the legal period of protection is prohibited, but also the taking of preparatory steps for such a decision before the end of that period (CJUE 11 October 2007 Paquay, Case C-460/06; Cour de Cassation 15 September 2010 no. 08-43.299)
  • Article 2-3° of Law no 2008-496 completing transposition of the European directives provides that as a matter of principle, “Any direct or indirect discrimination is prohibited due to pregnancy or maternity including maternity leave (…)”.

Main objective of the project

At first, this campaign was launched by HALDE in 2010. 1,5 million copies of the leaflet were distributed in public places including family benefits offices, law and justice centres, family planning clinics and maternity wards. It was considered as necessary as 400 individual claims were lodged with the HALDE in 5 years time.

At the end of 2012, this document was updated. 200,000 copies were disseminated to the Family Allowances Fund (Caisse d’allocations familiales), the Child and Maternal Protection (Protection maternelle et infantile), child-care centers, gynecologists, women associations, employers associations, the National Employment Agency, etc.

In 2011, 388 claims relating to discrimination on the ground of pregnancy representing 5% of the total claims on discrimination were lodged with the French Defender of Rights.

The HALDE and the Defender of Rights made observations before the Courts and tribunals on about 60 cases. The percentage of success is very high.


  • Awareness Raising
  • Enforcement and litigation if need be

The leaflet explains, in very accessible way, the rights and the duties of the pregnant workers and their employers. It also gives the contact details of the Defender of Rights.

Key achievements

Following these measures under the ex-HALDE (now Defender of Rights), the proportion of complaints on the grounds of gender and pregnancy doubled. The women are more aware of their rights and claim them.

The HR managers found this tool very accessible; it is used as a notification of the law and the duties of the employers.

FRANCE - Liaison Committee with Employment Intermediaries (CLAIE)

August 7th 2014


Upon assessing the current state of antidiscrimination and equality action in France, it is clear that employment remains at the forefront. Indeed, employment discrimination remains prevalent in French society today. Of the 82 416 complaints filed with the Defender of Rights in 2012, 51.5 % of these were concerning discrimination on the job. In a recent opinion poll, 87% of French job seekers said that discrimination is commonplace while job hunting, with 81% stating that the current economic crisis will increase the risk of discrimination regarding employment access.

Given this information, the participation of employment actors in the fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality is particularly crucial. For this reason, the Defender of Rights has led the Liaison Committee with Employment Intermediaries (CLAIE), created in 2007 by the HALDE. The committee consists of the following employment intermediaries: Pôle Emploi, A competence Égale, CNML, CHEOPS, APEC, PRISME, and SYNTEC Conseil, chosen for their representativeness and legitimacy in the field. These actors, who play an important role in job recruitment as they act as an interface between job seekers and potential employers, confront challenges in their obligations to respect equal opportunity measures and legislation. Currently, employment intermediaries must face two major challenges;

  • Discriminatory requests coming from the part of employers
  • Employers seeking to diversify their workforce, but unable to explicitly target minority candidates

The committee aims to foster dialogue and exchange between employment intermediaries and the Defender of Rights, the objective being collaboration on tools aimed at promoting good practices as well as the establishment of preventative actions for those on the job market most vulnerable to discrimination.

The work of the committee has led to several advancements in the fight against discrimination during the recruitment process, most notably the Together for More Recruitment Equality commitment agreement, signed in October of 2013. The agreement requires that employment intermediaries put in place an active policy of equal opportunity and non-discriminatory practices. This commitment consists of the following components:

  • The implementation of non-discrimination and equality awareness campaigns and actions both within and outside of the organization
  • The refusal of all discriminatory requests and the application of equal treatment in recruiting procedures
  • Recruiting transparency and objectivity
  • Promotion of equal opportunity amongst candidates
  • Informing the Defender of Rights of all measures taken regarding the commitment and sharing examples of good practices in this domain
  • Communicating the organization’s commitment to all those involved in the recruitment process (recruiting agencies, employers)

Furthermore, the committee has led the Defender of Rights to elaborate a number of different tools aimed at guiding employment intermediaries in ensuring equal opportunity and eradicate discriminatory practices. Among these tools are

  • A newsletter focused on equal opportunity in the work place and during the recruiting process
  • The Framework for Action (Cadre pour agir et rendre compte -CARC) an auditing tool allowing to evaluate the practices of employ intermediaries
  • A question and answer internet platform dealing with employment access for the handicapped
  • Pamphlets on different aspects concerning employment discrimination (e.g. pregnancy and maternity)
  • The publication of jurisdictional decisions as well as decisions made by the Defender of Rights in the domain of employment discrimination

In addition to the commitment agreement and tools developed, the committee highlighted the need to examine risks of discrimination through the use of new technologies in recruitment procedures. During the pre-selection phase of recruitment, the use of the internet (social networks, search engines) and of software allowing for elaborate search criteria has greatly increased over the past few years. This technology runs the risk of facilitating discriminatory selections by using key words related to age, gender or ethnic origins. Discriminatory risks are also inherent on professional networks, as these profiles show the photo, age, and conjugal status of interested parties. In order to better understand these possible risks, the committee decided it to launch a study, consulting software publishers on the selection criteria requested by clients as well as their own knowledge of equal opportunity and antidiscrimination legislation. This study will allow for a better understanding of the techniques developed in this domain and help prevent discriminatory practices when using new technologies in the recruiting process.

Finally, the work of the committee has led to the implementation of a working group on “paradoxical injunctions”, that it is to say public policy initiatives inciting employers to diversify their work force but which restrict them from implementing quotas in the work place. The work group aimed at bringing to light the specific challenges that employment intermediaries face in this domain, namely their uncertainty as to what constitutes discriminatory practices when it comes to recruiting employees belonging to minority groups. The group decided to consult with those concerned by these problems (experts, employer representatives, actors in the field) in order to make an assessment of the difficulties in this domain and identify good practices likely to ensure the recruiting process from discriminatory practices.

FRANCE - Discrimination and measuring diversity

August 6th 2014


In May 2012, the Defender of Rights and the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL), after extensive consultation of experts, published a methodological guide to measuring diversity. It is called “Measuring progress towards equal opportunities” (“Mesurer pour progresser vers l’égalité des chances”). This project was funded by the European Commission within the PROGRESS programme. This publication is primarily intended for employers and HR managers.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The targeted duty bearers are employers, HR managers, trade unions, diversity managers and workers.

This is the situation in terms of obligations:

  • Article 6 bis and article 6 of the Le Pors Law refers to employment of civil servants and public agents. They respectively provide that no distinction, whether direct or indirect, may be drawn between civil servants or public agents on the ground of sex, opinions on political, unionist, philosophical or religious subjects, origin, sexual orientation, age, surname, state of health, physical appearance, disability, membership or non-membership - true or supposed - of a given ethnic group, nation, race or religion.
  • Article L. 1132-1 of the Labour Code prohibits discrimination within the field of private employment when hiring or dismissing an employee, or for any other measure adopted during the course of an employment contract. According to this provision, no one may be denied access to a recruitment process or training period, no employee may be punished, dismissed, or discriminated against, either directly or indirectly, as far as his/her remuneration, classification, promotion is concerned in particular, on certain grounds specifically provided for by law.

Prohibited grounds covered by Article L. 1132-1 are the following: origin, sex, mores, sexual orientation, age, family status, pregnancy, genetic characteristics, membership or non-membership - true or supposed - of a given ethnic group, nation, race or religion, political opinions, trade union activity, religious convictions, sexual identity, physical appearance, surname, state of health or disability. This list is the broadest in French law.

  • Article 225-2 of the Penal Code punishes discrimination committed against a natural or a legal person, by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of EUR 45,000. The discrimination may consist of the following:
    1. the refusal to supply goods or services;
    2. obstructing the normal exercise of any given economic activity;
    3. the refusal to hire, to sanction or to dismiss a person;
    4. subjecting the supply of goods or services to a condition based on one of the prohibited grounds;
    5. subjecting an offer of employment, an application for a course or a training period to a condition based on one of the prohibited grounds;
    6. refusing to accept a person onto one of the specific courses referred to in Social Security Code.

Article 225-1 states that discrimination is understood as any distinction applied between legal persons by reason of origin, sex, family situation, physical appearance, surname, state of health, disability, genetic characteristics, mores, sexual orientation, age, political opinions, union activities, membership or non-membership, true or supposed, of a given ethnic group, nation, race or religion of one or more members of these legal persons.

French legislation prohibits the collection of sensitive data such as “personal data that reveal, directly or indirectly, the racial or ethnic origins, the political, philosophical or religious opinions, or the trade union membership of persons” (article 8 of Law no. 78-17 of 6 January 1978, on files, data processing and individual liberties, as amended by Law no. 2004-801 of 6 August 2004, on the protection of individuals in the processing of personal data).

In spring 2009, the Commissioner for Diversity and Equal Opportunities, Yazid Sabeg, set up a committee to measure and evaluate discrimination and diversity (COMEDD), chaired by the director of the National Institute for Demographic Research (INED), to study statistical tools in this area. In a report dated February 2010 [1], the committee argued that statistical methods currently permitted under French law – such as the assessment of persons’ origins on the basis of their nationality, parents’ nationality or country of birth – was sufficient in order to measure diversity and discrimination.
Moreover, the 1978 law governing the use of ethnic and racial statistics allows for exceptions to the general prohibition on the use of such criteria, insisting on conditions such as individual consent to the gathering of such information, as well as a requirement of public interest, subject to review by the National Council for Information Technology and Liberties. Researchers can thus use them, under supervision, in targeted surveys.

The report rejects the need to further extend this domain of intervention to include a thematic derogation on data related to origin. However, it further proposes that the HALDE (now the Defender of Rights) be designated as an observatory on discrimination in order to develop indicators, coordinate studies, and receive a mandate to publish an annual report on the national situation on discrimination.

Moreover, neither general procedural rules nor the implementing provisions of EU directives refer to the use of statistical evidence. However, pursuant to general principles of interpretation of EU law, nothing will prevent national courts from using statistics, as a legal means of evidence. Incidentally, article 8 II paragraph 5 of the Law 78-17 of January 6, 1978 relating to information systems, data, and the protection of freedom recognises that personal data can be used in the context of any administrative and judicial proceeding pursuant to the defence or the exercise of a legal right.

Statistics resulting from the comparative situation of employees of a common employer are now commonly used in labour law based on the comparative approach developed by the ECJ in discrimination cases, and repeatedly recognized by the Court of Cassation. In a judgment Airbus Operations SAS n° K 10-15873 dated 15 December 2011, the Court of cassation explicitly referred to the HALDE’s (now Defender of Rights) conclusions.

The decision concerned a candidate of North African descent who was hired a number of times as short term employee with very favorable evaluations. When applying for an indefinite term contract, the application of another short term worker with less favorable evaluations and less experience, but of French descent, was chosen.

The Halde’s enquiries as regards the list of persons employed indicated that among recruited staff between 2000 and 2006, all were of French citizenship, and only two had a last name of North African origin. Moreover, for the period between January 2005 and July 2006, on the 43 employees hired under indefinite term contracts, none had a last name of North African origin. As regards justifications presented by the employer, the Court concluded that the sole fact that the hired employee had a higher degree is insufficient to provide a satisfactory justification given Airbus’ non transparent hiring practices. The Cour de Cassation concluded that discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin had taken place.

Nevertheless, the use of statistics by tribunals remains rather exceptional.

Main objective of the project

This extensive booklet of 106 pages aims at answering questions employers may have such as “To which extent does my company respect the principle of equality and diversity? How to identify discrimination based on origin if it is prohibited to collect racial data? What action can I take in favour of one particular group?” etc.

Employers and HR and diversity managers wonder how to measure diversity in their companies without breaching the law on ethnic statistics.


  • Raising awareness
  • Twenty-five practical information sheets give in detail the actions to be taken by the companies. For example, the third and fourth parts of the guide describe the relevant methodology to analyse the HR management files and to conduct monitoring (protocol, categories of useful data etc). It also provides for specific templates (e.g. to obtain the consent of the workers to collect specific data).
  • Staff of the Defender of Rights and the CNIL went on a road show in June and July 2012 to present this guide locally in three big cities (Marseille, Paris, Lyon). They coordinated workshops based on case-study for HR and diversity managers, representatives of associations and consultants.

Key achievements

This methodological document is used as a reference tool by the employment actors. It provides clear and accessible instructions. Thanks to its 25 templates, the guide is used “à la carte” which is handy. Feedbacks are positive.

It is also the result of the cooperation between the Equality Body and the Personal Data Supervisory Authority.

[1COMEDD Report dated February 3, 2010 on inequality and discrimination ;

FRANCE - Discrimination against disabled people

August 6th 2014


On 13 September 2012, the Defender of Rights published on his website a FAQ document of 48 pages. It aims at informing and counselling the intermediaries of employment, the companies and the disabled persons in order to promote the access of disabled persons to employment and to prevent discrimination against them.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

This tool is the result of hearings with the employment stakeholders, members of associations of disabled persons, trade unions’ representatives, occupational physicians, experts etc.

The Law no 2005-102 of 11 February 2005 on equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of people with disabilities provides for a unified legal protection of disabled persons [1].

A similar obligation relating to the annual negotiation concerning gender equality (and senior age) is applicable to disability for companies of more than 50 people or 300 people.

Companies employing more than 20 people shall respect a quota of 6% of disabled people of their total workforce.

The Law no 2005-102 of 11 February 2005 provides for the right to reasonable accommodation issue of the 2000/78 EU Directive.

The Decree no. 2009-1272 of 21 October 2009 requires the accessibility of all disabled people to their workplace in new buildings or in new parts of existing buildings.

Main objective of the project

This tool is the result of a mid-term process. It started with the HALDE decision no. 2010-126 of 14 June 2010 which had already clarified the legal concepts applicable concerning the access to employment of disabled persons within the private sector (available here). It was followed by the creation of work group, coordinated by the Defender of Rights and gathering diverse associations and the National employment agency. The private consultant on disability, Ariane, also actively contributed to this project.


Awareness raising (a FAQ document of 48 pages added now with a brochure). It is a tool which is simple, practical and accessible to a maximum of persons.

Key achievements

This document is used as a reference tool by the employment actors.

Key challenges

  • Technical problems of presentation of this FAQ document because there were too many questions (including accessibility of the document to disabled people); therefore, the document seems a bit dry. The PDF version is appreciated as it can be read as a reference document too.
  • The length of the validation process of a tool decided earlier together with external partners as well as the words chosen in the brochure (e.g. visible disabilities, disabled worker/person etc). The organisation of different meetings including also the associations and the national employment Agency (Pôle Emploi) has been successful to overcome potential difficulties.

[1It reviews former laws such as la loi 75-534 d’orientation du 30 juin 1975 en faveur des personnes handicapées (Vocational guidance, sheltered work, guaranteed income), la loi 87-517, du 10 juillet 1987, en faveur de l’emploi des travailleurs handicapés (Compulsory employment (quota) for private and public sectors) ; la loi 90-602, du 12 juillet 1990, relative à la protection des personnes contre les discriminations en raison de leur état de santé ou de leur handicap (Non discrimination) or la loi 91-663 du 13 juillet 1991, portant diverses mesures destinées diverses mesures destinées à favoriser l’accessibilité aux personnes handicapées (accessibility)

CROATIA - “Equally Diverse” Project

August 1st 2014


The “Equally Diverse” project was supported through the Progress Programme of the EU and was implemented in 2012 by the Croatian Office of the Ombudsman in partnership with the Croatian Employment Service and Governmental Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities.

The project had 3 components and the first one involved the election of 5 regionally based NGOs with whom an "agreement on cooperation" was signed and they were formally established as regional antidiscrimination contact points of the Ombudsman. Representatives from these 5 NGOs were then trained not only on antidiscrimination legislation but on specific diversity management concepts so that they become competent in giving relevant information to the employers who are interested in introducing specific equality measures and actions in their working environments.

The second component encompassed the election of 10 companies/employers who underwent a basic antidiscrimination training and for whom internal tools for combating discrimination and promoting equality in different business processes were developed with the professional guidance of HR experts subcontracted through this project. These antidiscrimination tools were developed after a "needs analysis" was done for each of the companies and in cooperation with company representatives, but also with the representatives from NGO contact points who participated at the workshops where these tools were discussed and defined. All of these processes (i.e. election of companies, development of anti-discrimination tools etc.) were described as good practice examples in a brochure developed through this project to serve as a guide for employers in promoting antidiscrimination and equality in the work place. To make these activities more visible to regional actors in the field of work and employment (i.e. employers and organizations of employers as well as state employment services) regional round table discussions were organized by the regional antidiscrimination contact points.

The third component was focused on awareness raising, targeting the public in general and employers as well. Within the framework of the campaign promotional posters were developed and displayed in the means of public transportation across Croatia, as well as web banners (displayed on 2 web portals for employers and potential employees). A TV spot was broadcasted both on the national and private TV channels, and leaflets and various promotional materials specifically targeting employers were distributed.

Finally, in cooperation with the Human Rights Film Festival, a movie was broadcasted, open to the public, and which tackled problems of social crisis, unemployment, and discrimination in the workplace.

The project as a whole was focused on the fight against discrimination in the area of work and working relations. This focus was chosen based on the fact that discrimination is most widespread in these areas. Both statistical data on discrimination complaints received by the Ombudsman’s Office and survey results from the survey conducted to find out what is the perception of the majority of citizens about discrimination occurrences had shown that people experience either discrimination or some kind of ill treatment which they perceive as discrimination, in these areas. This is why giving information on what discrimination is and how it can manifest itself as well as on who are the actors, who have the mandate to fight it, was necessary both in relation to the citizens and the employers.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

Employers and labor market agents, on the regional level, were the targeted duty bearers for this project.

The employers and regional labor market actors, as duty bearers, do not have any specific duties under the Antidiscrimination act. However, they have a few general duties (i.e. prescribed to all of the actors to whom the prohibition of discrimination is referring to, namely, all state bodies, bodies of local and regional self-government units, legal persons vested with public authority, legal persons and all natural persons) besides the general duty not to discriminate, which they were not familiar with.

Since respecting these duties can bring about significant improvements in antidiscrimination protection it was important to point these duties out and to inform these actors about them. These duties are to report reasonable suspicion of discrimination to the Ombudsman when one witnesses discrimination and the duty to provide the Ombudsman with all relevant information and documentation about discrimination case/incident when the Ombudsman asks for it.

In addition, employers have other specific duties under the Labour Act concerning protection of workers’ dignity. Namely, employers who have more than 20 employees are obliged to draft and adopt internal regulation that defines salaries, organization of work, procedure and measures for protection of workers’ dignity, measures concerning protection against discrimination as well and to appoint a person responsible for handling complaints in cases when a worker’s dignity is violated. Although this obligation does not arise from the Antidiscrimination Act it is in close connection with the fight against discrimination. If known and respected by the employers, this can become an important tool in creating working environments where employees are better protected against arbitrary conducts of the employer which may sometimes amount to discrimination.

Main objective of the project

The main objective of the project was to further support the implementation of national legislation on antidiscrimination through promoting antidiscrimination and equal treatment in the field of work and working relations and through enhancing the visibility of the Ombudsman as the central equality body among the wider public, especially on regional and local level.


  • Information and awareness raising: awareness raising tools were used since results of different surveys on discrimination have shown that the level of acquaintance with the prohibition of discrimination, the existence of Anti-discrimination Act and the Ombudsman’s role as the central equality body were very low among the general public, employers and unemployed persons. In this context, dissemination of informational materials which included relevant information concerning means of protection was used as a tool for filling in the gap at the level of awareness and familiarity with the prohibition of discrimination.
  • Research: research was used as a tool in this project only for supporting the awareness raising component, i.e. for measuring the change of perception and attitudes before and after the national antidiscrimination campaign was implemented
  • Training
  • Advice and guidance
  • Engagement and provision of practical support

The last three tool were used because these types of activities are the most suitable ones in terms of the impact they have on the target groups (they have sustainable and long term results), and because their use enables getting feedback from target group representatives participating in the activities, which can then be used as a basis for planning further actions concerning the specific target group.

Key achievements

The most important achievement of this project was introducing the Ombudsman into the regions through the establishment of regional antidiscrimination contact points. Since the Ombudsman does not have regional offices these 5 NGOs - contact points will provide the Ombudsman with relevant information about discrimination occurrences and discrimination cases in their region and serve as a direct link between the Ombudsman and citizens who want to report discrimination.

This is the most valuable achievement since it enables the Ombudsman to stay present in the regions, familiar with local problems and well informed and to continue her/his work with target groups, which altogether broadens the effects and results of the project outside the scope of the project itself.