Although the Guernsey Discrimination Law is still taking shape and is unlikely to be in force until 2021, there are steps that Island employers should be considering at this early stage.
All employers need a plan for how they will prepare for and respond to the law and ensure that they are complying with it – for some businesses that plan might only need to be a few lines long, for others, it will be a more detailed document.
Here is a practical checklist of some of the key points for consideration:
- Training – start thinking ahead for what kind of training your teams might need, based on their different roles and responsibilities. It might be that simple handouts are enough to do the job, but some team members might need in-person training from professionals on key elements of the legislation that are relevant to their jobs. Training in equal opportunities, anti-bullying and harassment and anti-discrimination will benefit all staff.
- Review - examine your employment contracts (including your benefit offerings) to ensure compliance with the new legislation.
- Check - ensure your job descriptions are accurate. These will be key to protecting your business from successful discrimination claims and also as a defence to equal pay for work of equal value claims.
- Rewrite – your business doubtless has handbooks, policies and procedures to cover various elements of operations, including recruitment, appraisals, conduct, and sickness absence management. They will need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with the law.
- Premises – for some employers offering services to the wider public (or even to a smaller group of prospective clients) some physical changes to premises may be needed to ensure accessibility – do you need to start planning to be able to demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to ensure access?
- Hiring – one of the key areas where discrimination issues manifest is in decisions about recruitment, and for that reason it is critical that HR professionals (and others involved in recruitment decisions) understand how to demonstrate compliance with the law.
- Leadership – these issues are not just at the operational level – directors and senior leadership need to be engaged and alive to the questions that the discrimination law raises, if only from a risk perspective. You should consider some training for board members and senior leadership to be able to demonstrate that they have considered discrimination issues.
Walkers has partnered with the States of Guernsey on raising awareness for the Island's employers of the proposed discrimination legislation as part of their Equality Awareness Series and run a session for employers on the current Discrimination Legislation Consultation. We will continue to update clients with relevant information and training events as the law crystallises.
Walkers' Guernsey employment team includes senior counsel Sarah Ash, one of the few employment lawyers practising in Guernsey with first-hand recent experience of advising on the English discrimination legislation – and with employment specialists in Jersey and Ireland, we are well-placed to advise on the practical issues that the law presents, as well as in implementation from the perspective of employers with operations in more than one jurisdiction.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.