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Draft discrimination legislation fears ‘based on misinformation’

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MUCH of the concern over draft discrimination legislation is based on ‘misinformation, misinterpretation and fear of the unknown,’ according to the Employment & Social Security president.

Deputies Emilie Yerby, left, and Michelle Le Clerc have been at the forefront of discrimination and equality proposals. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 25850542)

Deputy Michelle Le Clerc’s comments in an open letter come after repeated calls from all the major business groups in the island for a consultation to be extended.

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 CIPD also want the committee to publish an impact assessment for the States based on the proposals.

They believe the law, if approved as is, would go too far, cost too much and is not fit for purpose.

Deputy Le Clerc stressed that it was consulting on a draft.

‘If the local business associations are concerned about any aspects of the proposals, this is their opportunity to provide feedback. We are listening and we will carry on listening until we submit our final proposals to the States in 2020,’ she said.

‘It’s clear from the media coverage that much of the concern being aired is based on misinformation, misinterpretation and fear of the unknown. I don’t think the views I’ve seen reported in the media reflect the views of all businesses. We’ve met with a variety of business owners at political and staff level in recent weeks. Having taken the time to ask questions and understand what the proposals really mean in practice, we have allayed many of their fears and have found a significant number to be broadly supportive of the proposals and what we’re trying to achieve.’

A policy letter is due to come to the States in April before legislation is drawn up.

‘The impression being portrayed is that these proposals have come from nowhere with no prior engagement with business representatives. This is simply not the case.’

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She said that representatives of the main business associations had been invited to key meetings during the development of these proposals, including one in November where the “straw man” proposal was explained. ‘These business groups were sent the presentation materials and the full straw man immediately after the event and were invited to comment. No comments were received from those organisations at that stage.’

Chamber began surveying its members last week and said on Friday that within two hours it had recovered 82 responses with a consensus that a six-month consultation was needed and impact assessments.

ESS’s consultation runs until Monday 30 September and is available at www.gov.gg/discriminationconsultation.

‘We’re pleased that the Chamber of Commerce are engaging with their membership through the publication of their own survey,’ said Deputy Le Clerc.

‘However, it’s important that people still respond to our official consultation as we’re concerned that the Chamber survey has many factual inaccuracies and includes leading questions.’

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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