A draft of the anti-discrimination law has been released online by the Committee for Employment & Social Security “in the interests of transparency”.
Guernsey currently has very little in the way of anti-discrimination legislation. The only anti-discrimination law protecting the public is the Sex Discrimination Ordinance of 2005, which gives legal recourse to people discriminated on the basis of their sex.
In July 2020, just before the end of the previous States' term, the Assembly gave the green light to proposals for a new and comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance. The Committee was instructed to lead drafting of the law based on the policies approved by the Assembly.
The Committee says the law does not include anything unexpected and seeks to offer reasonable legal protections to people who currently are not adequately protected by the law.
If the law is put before the States' Assembly in its draft form and then approved by deputies, discrimination will be outlawed if based on disability, race, sexual orientation, religious belief or whether somebody is a carer, and anyone discriminating on these grounds will be subject to penalties.
However, parts of the law are known to be of concern to some States' members and for months the Guernsey Policy and Economic Group think tank has been openly calling for the policies on which the law is based to be substantially amended or reversed. They will now have considerably longer than normal to prepare any challenges or amendments ahead of the draft law being debated by the States this summer.
Pictured: Members of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, which said: “The content of the draft ordinance should contain no surprises as St. James Chambers has drafted it to comply with the policy instructions approved by the States of Deliberation."
The legislation has been a long time coming for some. Local charity Equality Guernsey said the draft is welcome after some tough times engaging with politicians in the current States' Assembly.
The charity is part of a group of leaders with experience in the arena of discrimination which will be involved in educating people about how the ordinance will affect them if it is approved by the States' Assembly. The group includes experienced members from Walkers LLP, the Guernsey Institute, Focus HR, the Guernsey Employment Trust and the Guernsey Disability Alliance.
Pictured: Karen Blanchford said: “We’re going to be very active in supporting business and the community in understanding the legislation and preparing for it. 2022 will be a very big year."
Publication of an ordinance in draft form is highly unusual. The Committee says it is in response to several requests for transparency.
“The Committee is already part way through a written technical consultation process targeted at selected parties to ascertain whether the provisions of the draft ordinance are clear and will be well understood and to confirm they agree that the draft is in line with the policy direction set by the States,” it said.
“This consultation is specifically targeted at those who either have employment or discrimination legislative expertise, or who have a special interest in the ordinance, such as those who represent stakeholders who will have specific responsibilities under the legislation or represent a ground of protection.
“The consultation specifically does not relate to the policy detail underpinning the legislation, as this has already been agreed by successive States' Assemblies in July 2020 and November 2021.”
The publication of the ordinance is not part of the ongoing consultation with relevant stakeholders.
However, the Committee said it would welcome any technical feedback on the draft document.
Any feedback on the ordinance should be directed to Equality Guernsey at: email@example.com.
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