Annual cost of discrimination law to the States is disputed

THE Employment & Social Security president has said he is happy to engage with a business group which has raised concerns about the potential cost and impact of anti-discrimination legislation.

Dave Newman, chairman of the Confederation of Guernsey Industry. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30644967)
Dave Newman, chairman of the Confederation of Guernsey Industry. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30644967)

Peter Roffey made the offer to the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, which claimed the States’ bill for implementing and running the new legislation could be £850,000 annually – a figure that the politician said was not recognised by the committee.

‘We’re grateful for the recent response provided by the Confederation of Guernsey Industry as part of the recent technical consultation on the draft discrimination ordinance and are happy to engage with them directly on their questions and feedback,’ he said.

‘The committee does not recognise the figure of £850,000 per annum mentioned by the CGi

and would need to engage with them directly to understand where this has come from.’

The anticipated costs of implementing the legislation were set out in full in the policy letter debated by the States in July 2020, he said.

Deputy Roffey added: ‘The policy letter stated that the running costs to meet demand for complaints, advice and informal resolution would be an additional £370,000 per annum when fully operationalised.

‘These figures don’t include any potential compensation payments that may be awarded by the tribunal if a complaint against the States were upheld as this can’t be estimated.

‘But the States will work hard in the lead up to the implementation of the legislation and beyond to reduce the risk of complaints being made against it.’

CGi chairman Dave Newman said the group had no issues in principle with an anti-discrimination law.

But he said it was reasonable to ask the States where the funding was coming from, as well as what checks and balances would be put in place to help business.

‘The CGi would like to understand Guernsey’s new legislation in terms of tribunals, claims and costs, not only to implement but also the projected financial implications of this legislation year on year,’ he said.

‘We are puzzled that as the largest employer, the States of Guernsey has not made the estimated figures transparent, which we believe to be in the order of £850,000 per year.

‘The CGi would also be keen to establish where the funding will be coming from to meet such financial ramifications.’

Other points raised by the CGi, in its letter to Deputy Roffey, included a request for small businesses of fewer than 10 employees to receive partial exemptions from certain provisions of the new law.

It also asked that the legislative measures introduced were both appropriate and proportionate to local needs and circumstances.

Mr Newman added: ‘We are concerned that there appears to be little evidence of a substantial current problem and some smaller organisations, for example, those that are members of our confederation, may find implementing the law challenging.

‘We are very mindful of our members’ issues over cost and bureaucracy, particularly at a time when local organisations are grappling with Covid, Brexit, the rising costs of raw materials due to the crisis in Ukraine, and staff shortages.’

Deputy Roffey also defended the discrimination legislation when he appeared before the Scrutiny Management Committee this week.

. The CGi will provide its members with information and guidance, and run workshops to help them adapt to the new legislation. It has engaged with Focus HR and the Guernsey Disability Alliance – part of a States-appointed consortium – to gain a better understanding of the law.

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