The GDA actively encourages all its members, both charities/groups and individuals to reply to the discrimination legislation consultation launched by The Committee for Employment & Social Security (ESS).
ESS are seeking the community’s views on the draft proposals for new multi-ground discrimination legislation. The consultation will be open until Monday 30th September 2019.
The Committee for Employment & Social Security have published a range of documents, which go into different levels of detail. You do not need to read the technical draft proposals in order to take part in the consultation – you can dip in and out of the sections that interest you, or you can just refer to the easy-read, summary document, FAQs or questionnaire.
The GDA is holding two meetings for members:
• Friday 6th September 12-2pm
• Tuesday 17th September 7-9pm
On this page and the news tabs we will try to keep members as up to date as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org
9th August 2019.
The Guernsey Disability Alliance (the GDA) has been involved in the development of the proposals, particularly in relation to disability discrimination, from the start. The GDA first called for such legislation back in 2008.
Whilst the GDA has been actively involved, the final policies included in the draft proposals were a political decision. Having said that, the GDA Committee is broadly happy with the proposals, although there are some points of detail that we think could be improved. We think it is right and proper, however, to feed our comments back to the Committee for Employment and Social Security through the official consultation process.
I can, though, expand on the GDA’s thoughts about the proposed definition of disability. The GDA has long argued that the legislation should either not define disability (many jurisdiction’s laws do not define disability) or define it broadly. Narrow definitions can require a person to prove they are “disabled enough” or “deserving enough” to be protected from disability discrimination. That approach is not only inequitable and can be an assault on personal dignity, but it is irrelevant and has proved ineffective and troublesome elsewhere. None of the other protected grounds will be defined in the same way; so, for example, no one will have to prove they are gay, or how being gay effects their everyday life in order to claim protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Narrow definitions of disability lead to inferior legislation for disabled people; moreover, a narrow definition would not comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which the States are already committed to realising).
The Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities noted within its General Comment 6 that:
“Anti-discrimination law that is disability-inclusive seeks to outlaw and prevent a discriminatory act rather than target a defined protected group. In that regard, a broad impairment-related definition of disability is in line with the Convention ….”
Mindful of the above General Comment and recognising that, if disability is not defined in the legislation, a court might in the future impose a definition, the GDA Committee supports the proposed broad definition. In reality, this definition may still lead, on occasion, to a need to prove the existence of impairment but there will be no requirement to demonstrate how long the impairment has existed or is likely to exist, and no requirement either to demonstrate that the impairment effects personal functioning. We hope that a broad definition will therefore allow a court or tribunal to focus initially on establishing whether there is a prima facie case of disability discrimination to answer, rather than on whether a person meets a narrow definition.
You ask whether the requirements are “doable”. The answer is an emphatic yes. No employer or service provider will be required to make any change that is not reasonable or that would be an undue burden and this will take account of the size of the organisation. Guidance will be available for employers and suppliers of goods and services. The proposed Equality and Rights Organisation is key to this guidance and advice; experience elsewhere shows that disability related enquiries often account for more than 60% of all enquiries to such organisations. It’s useful to note too, that this sort of legislation is common elsewhere, and, in some cases has been operational for 30 years.
In my opinion, the proposals have managed to hit that tricky balance of being sufficiently comprehensive to work but simple enough to be understood and complied with (without being too much of a burden). It goes without saying that it is vital that everyone is being given an opportunity to voice their opinion through the consultation process.
I hope these few brief comments are helpful. Do get back to me if you would like any further information.
Rob Platts, MBE
Founder and Equality Advisor, Guernsey Disability Alliance