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Discrimination legislation proposals watered down after fears about the impact on business

News | Published:

GUERNSEY'S proposed disability discrimination legislation will be watered down and no longer cover six key characteristics, including age, sex, and pregnancy.

ESS president Deputy Michelle Le Clerc. Pic by Sophie Rabey. (26274522)

The president of Employment & Social Security Deputy Michelle Le Clerc announced the climbdown during the States Budget debate today.

Other qualities which have been dropped from the plan are marital status, carer status for parents, and trans status.

It means that there will be no specific laws to stop employers and service providers discriminating against people on those six grounds.

The areas that will still be covered are disability, race, sexual orientation and religious belief.

However the definition of disability is being 'revisited' because of concern that it was too broad.

A consultation process on the new equality legislation sparked a big and very polarised reaction over the summer.

Some business leaders had complained that the plan would give 'gold-plated' rights and was a 'snowflakes charter', that would especially hit small businesses.

The president of Employment & Social Security, Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, was disappointed that they were not following through with their original vision.

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'The committee is of the view that the proposals in their current form would be highly unlikely to obtain the majority support of the States due to concerns, primarily coming from the business community, that the proposals are not proportionate for Guernsey, and will place the island at a competitive disadvantage.'

The announcement will be a big letdown for minority groups on the island, who have waited years for new legislation, and had wanted Guernsey to lead the way with a progressive culture.

The island currently has only one piece of discrimination legislation, which is about sex discrimination in employment.

Deputy Le Clerc did offer some hope to equality rights campaigners that the issue would not be forgotten.

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'Our intention is to include in our policy letter an indicative timeline for when these grounds should will be addressed and included in the legislation.

'I know that this will be disappointing news to some of our stakeholders, but please rest assured that the committee remains committed to this work, we will refocus on the delivery of a set of proposals which are more likely to find the majority support of the States and will create a strong foundation for future expansion.'

Employment & Social Security was asking for an additional £75,000 from the 2020 Budget in order to pursue with its Disability and Inclusion Strategy.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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