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‘Extend anti-discrimination consultation’

News | Published:

LOCAL business owners have called for an extension to the consultation period on the new anti-discrimination law which aims to protect people against a range of discriminatory behaviours including on the basis of age, disability, or race.

Left to Right: Deputies Emilie Yerby and Michelle Le Clerc. (25802693)

The Guernsey Branch of the Institute of Directors, the Guernsey International Business Association, the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, and the Guernsey branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, have all joined forces and asked for the feedback deadline to be extended beyond the end of this month.

In a statement, the groups expressed a desire to see the States’ own impact assessment of the proposals.

‘If this analysis is not yet available, given the wide-ranging nature and complexity of the proposals, we would respectfully request the consultation is extended until it is available.

‘We have made the assumption that, as the States is both the largest employer in the island and the largest property owner, it has completed or is in the process of carrying out an impact analysis of its own sector.

‘Clearly if this is not the case we would see this as an absolute requirement as part of the States consultation and deliberation of these proposals.’

Guernsey currently has very limited legal powers in existence to protect against discrimination, only sex discrimination in employment is covered.

Along with age, disability and race, the new draft law also offers protection on the basis of religion, carer status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and trans status.

The context in which the new law would apply would also be much broader, to include when at work, and when accessing goods and services, such as shopping, eating in a restaurant, using public services, renting a property, or receiving financial services.

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The proposals contain other provisions too, such as equal pay for equal work, prohibition of harassment or discriminatory advertisements.

If people or organisations are found to discriminate against someone they could face hefty financial penalties.

The deputies spearheading the legislation – Michelle Le Clerc and Emilie Yerby –have already stated that any delay or extension to the consultation would run the risk of the policy plans not being put forward to the States within this political term.

Some business owners and commentators have commended the laudable intent of the proposals, but have questioned whether they could lead to more red tape and possible reverse discrimination.

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The main message from the various local business groups is that more time is needed to give properly considered feedback.

‘We continue to strongly encourage our members to respond to this consultation by the 30 September deadline.’

‘However, we note the concerns raised by those in our organisations over the complexity and wide-ranging nature of the proposals, coupled with the relatively short time for the consultation – most of which took place over the summer holiday – and we would ask that Employment & Social Security consider an extension to the consultation deadline.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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