Friday 14 January 2022
The Committee for Employment & Social Security is providing the following progress update on work to introduce new anti-discrimination legislation.
A first draft of the Prevention of Discrimination Ordinance has been prepared to put the policy decisions agreed by the States Assembly into law and is currently being reviewed for technical accuracy by key stakeholders. This 'technical consultation' is an optional stage in the standard legislative drafting process, but the Committee thinks it will add value to, and assurance around, the final draft of the Ordinance which it intends to take to the States for approval in quarter 3 of this year.
The stakeholders included in the technical consultation have been selected by the Committee because they fall into one of the following categories:
- Business/employer representative organisations;
- Representatives of sectors with specific responsibilities under the forthcoming legislation;
- Locally based members of the Employment Lawyers' Association and additional employment lawyers who have previously expressed an interest in the project;
- Equality groups representing the different grounds of protection; or
- Those involved in advising the Committee on the development of the policy proposals and in key aspects of implementation.
This focused consultation is due to close in mid-February, following which the Committee will consider the feedback received and instruct the legal drafter to make any technical changes necessary. The final draft Ordinance will then be submitted to the Legislation Review Panel for consideration, in line with normal procedures. Prior to submission to the Legislation Review Panel, the Committee will publish an assessment indicating those areas where the draft Ordinance differs from the equivalent legislation in Jersey and why.
The final draft will be published in good time to allow States Members, members of the public and other interested parties to consider it properly before debate. The Ordinance will come into force no sooner than six months after it has been approved by the States to allow time for businesses to prepare. This is anticipated to be in April or May 2023.
Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, said:
"This is not a reopening of the policy debate. The provisions to be included in the Ordinance have already been determined by the States. It is an extra step to ensure that the draft Ordinance is clear and properly conveys the policy intent already agreed by the States."
After the legislation is laid before the States a Consortium led by The Guernsey Institute and international law firm Walkers will work together to deliver a comprehensive training and development programme to assist employers and service providers in understanding and preparing for the new legislation.
Appleby have been appointed to prepare guidance documents which will provide clear, concise and easily digestible information on the requirements of the Ordinance, including on matters such as accessibility and reasonable adjustments.
Deputy Roffey said:
"Introducing anti-discrimination legislation has been a long journey for this Committee and for those who've served on this Committee previously. It has been an even longer journey for those who have tirelessly campaigned for anti-discrimination legislation over many years.
"Although the timeline is, of course, a best estimate, I hope that it is of great comfort to those who have campaigned for over a decade to see the finish line finally coming into view. I hope for their sake and for all those who will be protected by this legislation, that we, as a States, can deliver this much needed protection by mid-2023."
The introduction of legislation to protect against disability discrimination was approved by the States in November 2013 as part of the Disability and Inclusion Strategy. The States approved detailed policy proposals for phase one of a new Prevention of Discrimination Ordinance in July 2020. Definitions and exceptions in relation to the additional grounds of protection of sexual orientation and religious belief were approved by the States in November 2021. These two additional grounds were added into phase one, which will also protect people from discrimination on the basis of race, disability and carer status, as a result of a successful amendment to the Committee's original policy proposals. In July 2021 the current Assembly supported the legislation being brought forward during 2022 under priority three of the Government Work Plan.