The Head of the Committee for Employment and Social Security says GPEG’s claims regarding the cost and the proportionality of proposed anti-discrimination legislation are wide of the mark.
Deputy Peter Roffey has moved quickly to allay the fears of an independent think tank that has said any island anti-discrimination legislation should be proportionate, properly costed, and based on a similar jurisdiction.
Guernsey Policy and Economic Group – which describes itself as “a non-political, independent think tank committed to objective analysis of Guernsey projects, problems and opportunities” – claims that the States considered neither a cost-benefit analysis nor an impact assessment before drafting the legislation.
The group says the proposed legislation is “a blank cheque for unquantified benefits for unknown beneficiaries”. It adds that the process should be delayed to allow the analysis and the assessment to take place, as that may reveal a need for greater proportionality in the legislation.
GPEG also says the proposed Guernsey legislation overlooks similar legislation in Jersey and in the UK. It says instead it is based on a fusion of Australian and Irish law, and our island has a very different culture and diversity. In conclusion, GPEG states: “Quite how much has been invested thus far is unclear. Quite how much it is likely to cost organisations to implement this legislation is also unclear.”
Pictured: GPEG's web page says it will be "a key source of reliable information and good ideas to benefit Guernsey society".
But Deputy Roffey promptly refuted the claims.
He said: “I’m going to need to ask for forgiveness for my bluntness, but the Committee simply does not recognise the description of this important work based on the outline in the GPEG media release.”
Deputy Roffey continued: “Some of GPEG’s concerns focus on cost, which I presume relate to the cost of making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate disabled employees and service users. More often than not, reasonable adjustments are inexpensive.
“Plenty of research has been done and concluded that workplace adjustments not only are low cost, but also positively impact the workplace in many ways.”
He said that his committee was aware of the impact assessment carried out in the UK in 2009 ahead of the UK’s Equality Act 2010 coming into force. That concluded that the projected economic impact was uncertain, but likely to result in a very significant positive benefit at one end of the scale, and only possibly a slight negative dis-benefit at the other.
Deputy Roffey said: “This kind of impact assessment would be a specialist consultancy task, which would need a significant budget attached if we were to repeat this exercise for Guernsey separately. The result is likely to be much the same here. Indeed, the expected very significant positive benefit is part of the reason why other western jurisdictions have equality legislation and we have no reason to suspect that Guernsey would be any different.”
Pictured: The phases of the anti-discrimination legislation which will come into force locally.
He continued that legislation here had already moved far more in line with UK legislation than that of Ireland or Australia, and urged GPEG to examine his Committee’s policy letter, which is online. He wanted to reassure them and the whole business community that “the Committee is fully committed to making sure anti-discrimination legislation is proportionate and appropriate for us in Guernsey.”
“We are also committed to working with employers throughout the project, to understand any concerns they have and reassure them of the impact the legislation will have – which will be positive. We last month formed the Discrimination Legislation Stakeholder Group, which will provide a mechanism for feedback to the Committee on the plans for implementing the new Discrimination Ordinance.”
Deputy Roffey concluded: “To any employer in Guernsey I say this: if you are already a good employer that treats your staff with respect and supports them in the workplace if they have additional needs, then you have nothing to fear from anti-discrimination legislation.”
Pictured top: Deputy Peter Roffey, who refuted the claims made by GPEG.
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