Guernsey politician hits back at criticism of States' draft discrimination law

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The President of Guernsey’s Committee for Employment and Social Security has hit back at calls to extend the consultation period for States’ draft discrimination law.

The proposals are currently out for consultation until 30 September, but in an open letter, Deputy Michelle Le Clerc warned against concerns based on ‘misinformation, misinterpretation and fear of the unknown.’

It is hoped that the law, which could be introduced as early as 2021, would offer more protections on the grounds of religion, carer status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation and trans status. It would also introduce stricter penalties for employers who are found to discriminate against staff.

However, the States have faced calls from some business groups to extend the consultation period.

Deputy Le Clerc warned against this, saying a Policy Letter containing finalised proposals will be put forward for debate in 2020.

Following continued calls from the Guernsey branch of the Institute of Directors, the Guernsey International Business Association, the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Guernsey Industry (the G4) and the Guernsey branch of the CIPD, for an extension to the consultation period, as President of the Committee for Employment and Social Security I wish to stress that we are consulting regarding draft, not final, policy proposals for new discrimination legislation – the whole point is to hear people’s views.

If the local business associations are concerned about any aspects of the proposals, this is their opportunity to provide feedback. We are listening and we will carry on listening until we submit our final proposals to the States in 2020.

I would really urge the business associations to engage and apply the time remaining to understand the proposals, how they compare to other jurisdictions and respond constructively, rather than continuing to press for an excessively long consultation period which they know the Committee is not prepared to give if we are to meet our timetable. A Policy Letter with finalised proposals, taking into account consultation feedback, will come to the States in April 2020 for debate and, if approved, the legislation will be drafted. We must remember that there are those in our community that have waited patiently for years for these proposals.

– Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, President of Guernsey’s Committee for Employment and Social Security

Deputy Le Clerc has urged islanders and businesses to actively engage with the the consultation to express their concerns and help shape the legislation going forward.

I am aware that the Chamber of Commerce have published a survey including ten questions regarding this matter. We’re pleased that the Chamber of Commerce are engaging with their membership through the publication of their own survey. However, it’s important that people still respond to our official consultation as we’re concerned that the Chamber survey has many factual inaccuracies and includes leading questions.

I would like to encourage everyone who has views on any aspects of the Committee’s draft proposals to engage directly with the Committee either by completing the Committee’s consultation questionnaire or by emailing or writing to the Committee. This is the only way that people can be assured that we’ll receive their feedback in full.

– Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, President of Guernsey’s Committee for Employment and Social Security

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