The Independent reports on a potential loophole within the forthcoming EC Employment and Race Directives, which could, it says, lead to those working for organisations with an outlook that conflicts with their own personal life being dismissed from their jobs.
The legislation, due to come to parliament later this year, requires EU member states to introduce to outlaw unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability and age in the fields of employment and training. The government plans to amend the existing Race Relations Act (RRA) and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to ensure the UK complies. However, UK legislation will also include a general provision to allow for a difference in treatment to individuals where there is a ‘genuine and determining occupational requirement’, and for religious organisations, there will be provision for them to make decisions in order ‘to preserve their particular ethos’.
This last, according to the paper, has provoked anger among campaigners who fear that churches, charities and schools with a religious grounding may use the legislation to discipline, for example, gay or lesbian employees or even single parents where their lifestyle conflicts with the principles of their employer.
A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry told the paper: “This will allow action to deal with employees’ conduct and behaviour. People won’t be able to be sacked because they are gay.”
The new legislation will also see the end of the exemption of small employers from the Disablility Discrimination Act in October 2004. The government has yet to decide how to implement the Directive’s rulings on age descrimination and is planning for further consultation to take place next year.
To read the full consultation document and short guide to the proposals, see