June 10, 2011

At the end of last year, Commerce and Employment published a public consultation on Employment Law.
Under the current Guernsey law, only sex discrimination can be used as specific grounds for taking an employer to an employment tribunal – not age, race, religion or disability. Plus there’s no right to redundancy pay here, it’s at the employer’s discretion.
The Department wanted to know whether more employment law was needed in Guernsey and, if yes, what should they focus on as the priority. Guernsey Disability Alliance members were among the 108 contributors to the consultation.
The results have just been released and the order of priority for new employment law in C&E’s 2012 Business Plan will be:
1. Disability Discrimination in employment
2. Age Discrimination in employment
3. Racial Discrimination in employment
4. Statutory Right to Redundancy Pay
5. Statutory Right to Paid leave
This is a very positive result for disabled islanders, particularly for those trying to get a job. There is some limited employment protection at the moment as a result of the general law regarding unfair dismissal. But this only applies once you have been in post for one year so can’t be used to challenge employers whose initial recruitment process isn’t fair.
Of course, we have to remember there’s still a long, long way to go from here. Work won’t start on the new law till 2012 at the earliest and there is no saying how long it will take to draft or whether the States will vote it through. But nevertheless, getting it so high up on C&E’s agenda is a big step forward. And that definitely wouldn’t have happened without GDA input – the consultation document itself was pretty lukewarm about the need for disability discrimination law and the Chamber of Commerce made it clear that businesses don’t want it.
A great reminder of why our “joining together to speak with one voice” is worth all the effort. Thank you to C&E for listening.

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