New discrimination law protects locals against discrimination on the ground of their Jersey origin, employers told
When Jersey’s new Race Discrimination Law comes into force on 1 September, discrimination on
the grounds of race will become unlawful.
Employers heard at a Collas Crill seminar this week that the legislation has a very wide ambit in
that it covers paid employment but also training, voluntary work, education, provision of goods or
services, letting of property, partnerships and clubs.
Collas Crill partner Elena Moran said: “Most employers and service providers understand that it
will no longer be lawful to discriminate on the basis of skin colour. However, the definition of race
is much wider than just colour and includes ethnic and national origins. This means that it will no
longer be possible to treat foreign nationals or people with different national origins less favourably
than locals. The main exception is where the discrimination is allowed under some other piece of
legislation such as the Control of Housing and Work Law.
“The good news for local people is that it is not just discrimination against foreign nationals that will
be covered. The law specifically provides that discrimination on the grounds of Jersey origin is also
prohibited. This means that prejudice against locals in employment and in the provision or goods
and services will be outlawed.
“Discrimination in this context includes the application of an apparently neutral criterion that has a disproportionate and negative impact on people of a particular national origin.
“Employers should take care with ‘word of mouth’ recruitment referral schemes where the existing
workforce does not reflect the national demographic of the rest of the Island. Similarly, employers
should be careful to avoid stereotyping national groups as having particular employment traits.”
Another problem area is preferring candidates who have been educated at particular schools as
this could have a disproportionate impact on a particular national group, Elena explained.
“The Employment and Discrimination Tribunal will have the power to award damages up to
£10,000, so breaches of the Law could be a costly mistake,” she added.
And with just over one week until race discrimination becomes unlawful in Jersey, Collas Crill’s
employment law team told an audience of employers that they should take steps to ensure racism
is not expressed in their workplace.
Employers must make sure that it is not within their firm’s culture for racial discrimination to take
place, said Elena Moran.
“For example, don’t leave it to the employee who is the butt of discriminatory jokes to say it is
unacceptable. Create a culture where diversity is respected and people speak out if they feel that
a colleague is uncomfortable with they way they are being treated.”
And although the law comes into effect on 1 September – and so only instances of discrimination
taking place after that date would be brought to the new Employment and Discrimination Tribunal
– employers were warned that opinions expressed prior to that date may well be taken into account as evidence of a discriminatory culture.
Work-related social events could be a minefield, Advocate Moran warned, as the liability of an
employer may be extended outside formal working hours and premises.
Jersey’s Discrimination legislation, which begins with Race on 1 September, will be followed by
Gender (including maternity and flexible working) in September 2015, then age and disability at a
Category: Finance & Business