Equality and non-discrimination are core human rights concepts. When related to the field of employment, non-discrimination and equal opportunity are rooted in the principle that all decisions made at the workplace are based on the ability of the individual to do the job in question without regard to personal characteristics that are unrelated to the inherent requirements of the work.
The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 111 Convention on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation Convention) calls for a national policy to eliminate discrimination in access to employment, training and working conditions, on grounds of: race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, and to promote equality of opportunity and treatment.
A wide range of international human rights instruments contain strong equal treatment and non-discrimination provisions, including, among many others:
- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),
- the ILO 97 Migration for Employment Convention (1949),
- the ILO 100 Equal Remuneration Convention (1951),
- the ILO 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation Convention) (1958),
- the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965),
- the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966),
- the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979),
- the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (1990),
- the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998),
- the ILO 183 Maternity Protection Convention (2000),
- the ILO Code of Practice for Managing Disability in the Workplace (2002),
- the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), and
- the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
Discrimination can take many forms and can affect both access to employment and the treatment of employees once they are employed. It can arise in a variety of work-related situations, including access to employment and to particular occupations, and access to training and vocational guidance and support. It can also occur with respect to the terms and conditions of the employment, such as remuneration, hours of work and rest, paid holidays, maternity leave, security of tenure, social security, and occupational health and safety.
Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Discrimination is direct when rules, practices and policies exclude or give preference to a certain individual just because they belong to a particular group, while discrimination is indirect when apparently neutral norms and practices have a disproportionate and unjustifiable effect on one or more identifiable groups. Discrimination can also be multiple, when more than two grounds of discrimination co-exists, or intersectional discrimination, when two or more grounds operate and interact in such a way that they are inseparable. For example, women can experience disadvantage and discrimination based on their sex and gender, which can be inextricably linked to other identities, factors, and experiences such as a race and poverty.
The ILO recognises that:
“to achieve full freedom from discrimination in employment and occupation, the mere removal of discriminatory practices does not suffice. It is also necessary to promote equality of opportunity and treatment in the workplace at all stages of the employment relationship, including recruitment, retention, promotion and termination practices, remuneration, access to vocational training and skills development”.
As highlighted in the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights, Commentary to Guiding Principle 12:
“enterprises should respect the human rights of individuals belonging to specific groups or populations that require particular attention, where they may have adverse human rights impacts on them. In this connection, United Nations instruments have elaborated further on the rights of indigenous peoples; women; national or ethnic, religious, linguistic minorities; children; persons with disabilities; and migrant workers and their families.”
The International Finance Corporation recognises that businesses serving particular markets frequently find that having a diverse workforce increases their penetration in those markets based on the image their workforce projected to potential and actual customers. Such companies also tend to benefit as a result of having a wide range of experiences, perspectives, and cultural understandings within the organisation. A 2014 McKinsey research on 366 companies found that the positive relation between diversity and financial business performance was clear. Enterprises with female representation at executive teams and boards had a 15% increased likelihood of having financial performance above industry average, while companies with good ethnic/racial diversity increased that likelihood to 35%. A 2017 study conducted by the consultancy firm Cloverpop analysed 600 business decisions made by 200 different business teams in a wide variety of companies and found that inclusive teams made better business decisions up to 87% of the time. Teams that followed an inclusive process made decisions twice as fast as the others and, finally, decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results.
The ILO has noted that preventing discrimination in practice contributes to the retention of knowledgeable and high performing staff.
Various measures have been taken at the international level to address discrimination in employment and occupation. In 2001 the ILO established a Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work and in 2009 Guidelines for Promoting Equity: gender-neutral job evaluation for equal pay. The International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 2 on Labor and Working Conditions states that IFC clients shall not make employment decisions on the basis of personal characteristics unrelated to inherent job requirements. The European Union has approved a wide range of binding directives including one on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation, and another one that implements the Principle of Equal Treatment between Persons irrespective of Racial or Ethnic Origin. In addition to that, the European Union has developed Diversity Charters; voluntary initiatives that encourage companies to implement and develop diversity policies.
In terms of national legislation and policies, the ILO reported in 2011 that race and sex continued to be the two grounds of discrimination specifically included in almost all legislation for equality and against discrimination at work. New laws have been introduced or existing legislation amended worldwide to eliminate discrimination based on age, maternity and marital status, disabilities, lifestyle (smoking and obesity) and genetic predisposition. In relation to sexual orientation, as of 2015, 76 countries still criminalised same-sex sexual relations, and legislation protecting the rights of LGBT workers was absent in the vast majority of ILO member states. Many countries have also created mechanisms to monitor and assess the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation. Argentina, for example, established a Federal Council for Anti-Discriminatory Public Policies with the mandate to implement, monitor and supervise the National Plan against Discrimination. In Sweden, the Equality Ombudsman is responsible for supervising the pay surveys to determine whether any unjustified wage differentials exist between the sexes.
Various multi-stakeholder initiatives have addressed the issue of equality and non-discrimination at the workplace. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has developed a Base Code which provides that ETI members ensure that there should be no discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation.
A large number of business enterprises have successfully turned diversity into an asset and have adopted policies embracing considerations of non-discrimination. The vast majority of Fortune 500 companies, for example, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in particular. The Responsible Business Alliance has adopted a Code of Conduct by which it commits, among others, to a workforce free of harassment and unlawful discrimination. Heineken has adopted an HIV/AIDS non-discrimination policy stating that persons living with HIV/AIDS status will not affect job security, terms of employment or any other element of human resource policy. Additionally, it commits not to oblige anyone to undergo an HIV test or treatment. BHP Billiton has introduced an Employment Equity Policy in South Africa, which is aimed at improving labour market access and mobility for people in designated groups: black people, women, and people with disabilities.
Civil Society Organisations have also been supporting measures to address discrimination at the workplace. The International Trade Union Confederation, through its Decent Work Decent Life Campaign, gives priority to defending the rights of workers who are most vulnerable to discrimination, including women, migrants, and racial or ethnic minorities.
- Cloverpop, White Paper, Hacking Diversity with Inclusive Decision Making, 2017:
- University of Oxford, Oxford Human Rights Hub, CEDAW and Women’s Intersection Identities: A Pioneering approach to intersectional discrimination, 2016:
- ILO, Discrimination at work on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, results of the ILO’s Pride Project, 2015:
- European Commission, Does Diversity really Matter?, 2015:
- McKinsey & Company, Diversity Matters, 2015:
- ILO, Equality at Work, The continuing challenge, Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 2011:
- ILO, Guidelines for Promoting Equity: gender-neutral job evaluation for equal pay, 2009:
- IFC, Good Practice Note: Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity, 2006:
What National Action Plans say on Equality & non-discrimination
Action point 19
Promote good practices of SMEs that adopt responsible supply chain management, notably through the “CSR Compass” tool (Page 54)
One of the most relevant instruments developed by the European Commission on supply chain management is the portal, which is part of the European Alliance for CSR. Founded by the Commission and leading companies in Europe in 2006, the Alliance brings together 260 companies. This free-to-use platform offers, among other things, information on the topic itself, a set of best practices, codes of conduct, and international frameworks. By highlighting child labour and forced labour as key issues, the portal also addresses human rights. Other major topics include corruption, discrimination, freedom of association, collective agreements, health and safety, compensation, and working hours.
Walloon Governmental Action:
The action will consist of promoting the tools available to companies, including the CSR Compass. Concretely, this will involve setting up exchange workshops between companies from the same sector and creating a practical guide for SMEs wishing to improve the ethics of their supply chain. Some companies may also engage in “strategic partnerships” with NGOs and publicly-recognized foundations on specific projects. Indeed, companies will make available, free of charge, to an NGO certain voluntary employees whose technical skills will contribute to its mission. The European Multi-Stakeholder Forum echoed these practices, stressing that NGOs are a key to success in the South in implementing socially responsible practices by multinational firms and their suppliers via partnerships.
Action point 25
Give special attention to the ratification, support, and promotion of a series of ILO conventions relating to the rights of women (Page 62)
Federal Government Action:
The rights of women have not been specifically anchored in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The Belgian government wishes to grant them a privileged place in its action within the framework of the National Action Plan for Human Rights and Business, and this, acting on several tracks in parallel:
- Ratification of conventions of the ILO in this domain
◊ C156 – Convention on Workers with Family Responsibilities;
◊ C189 – Convention on Domestic Workers;
- Ratification of the Convention 175 on part-time work. The standards on part-time work have bcome instruments increasingly important to address issues such as the pursuit of equality between men and women;
- Emphasis on the rights of women in awareness-raising carried out by the network of Belgian diplomacy;
- Systematic reference in international forums and bilaterally to ratification by the countries concerned of the Equality Pay Convention No. 100 and ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention no. 111
Pillar 1. The State duty to protect human rights
Strand 3: Inclusion and Non-Discrimination [pages 35-38]
Action Point 3.1
The Ministry of Labour will:
- Perform a series of actions aimed at the protection and defense of human and labour rights of migrants through:
- The identification of migrants that may benefit from State programmes on labour matters.
- Training and awareness actions regarding the rights of migrants in the labour market for civil servants, unions and migrant associations.
- Seek to increase the incorporation and participation of women in the labour market through programmes benefiting this group such as: Bonus to Reward the Work of Women; Programme to Develop Labour Competences for Women, Chile Solidario.
- Promote and ensure the participation of women workers in unions.
- Foster parental responsibility through the development of Special Covenants where unions may agree with the employer upon certain covenants aimed at offering workers with parental responsibilities the chance to access to labour schemes combining time at the workplace with time out of the workplace, as set out by article 376 of Law No. 20,940.
Action Point 3.3
The Ministry of Mining will generate the conditions for transiting to an inclusive organisational structure that includes the acknowledgement of respect and diversity in their practices. They will do this carrying out the following actions:
- Talks about business and human rights addressed at key actors in the small, medium and large-scale mining industry.
- Through the participation in Regional Boards and in the National Board for Women and Mining, the development of an action plan will be supported to raise awareness and motivate the different public and private actors involved in the mining industry in subjects such as gender equality. Likewise, the implementation of conditions for women to stay and develop a career in the mining industry and get equal pay will be fostered, as well as the creation of good labour practices and the balance between work, family and personal life.
Action Point 3.4
The Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, through the Division of Associativity and Social Economy will:
- Create incubators of inclusive cooperatives in conjunction with SENADIS, the Ministry for Women and Gender Equality and local governments, in five districts -through training sessions in four different regions about the programme of female leadership in cooperatives.
- Encourage the organisation of training and support for the effective exercise of gender parity at democratic representation bodies within cooperatives.
Action Plan 3.6
The Ministry for Women and Gender Equality will:
- Carry out activities in conjunction with the Danish Embassy to encourage the respect of human rights in women regarding corporate activity. The activities will be performed within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding about “Gender Equality and Sustainability, including Business and Human Rights.”
- Organise training sessions for union leaders of State business enterprises about the union’s challenges regarding gender-focused demands.
- Organise training sessions for human resource staff working in State business enterprises and other businesses about the balance between work and family life.
- Disseminate Chilean Regulation No. 3262 to civil servants and business enterprises.
- Encourage gender equality in business enterprises through the Iguala Seal.
- Train civil servants about the balance between work and family life.
Strand 5: Public Contracts
Action Point 5.4 [page 43]
The Ministry of Social Development will: …
- The National Disability Service will review the operation of Guideline 17 about inclusive public purchases that promote equal opportunities in the public marketplace, with the purpose to improve its enforcement in line with the Guiding Principles.
Strand 6: Strengthening coherence between public policies
Action Point 6.2 [page 45]
The Ministry of Social Development will draft a proposal for gathering information about business and human rights, which includes the following: …
- Through the National Service of the Elderly, will coordinate dialogues about the services that provide the elderly residences with a human rights approach through protocols guidelines. The dialogues will be with enterprises at a regional level that provide services of care to elderly people to disseminate the guidelines the Service has define.
Action Point 6.3
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will: …
- Through the General Directorate of International Economic Relations, it will: · Reinforce the work of committees created pursuant to chapters contained in trade agreements about… gender..so that they include human rights-related objectives in their duties, thus becoming a forum for carrying out relevant dialogues. In line with the above, DIRECON will encourage the development of specific coordination activities in the committees and promote the development of technical capacities in human rights.
The Colombian National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights [page 6]
This Plan is intended to help overcome weaknesses from the past and build stronger trust among society, business enterprises and the State. Thus, businessmen and social and union organisations are required to be willing to respect the rights of ethnic groups, women, children, adolescents, LGBTI, people with disabilities, union movements and other minorities.
The State Duty to Protect
IV. The State’s guidance towards respect for Human Rights in the business activities [page 15]
4.3 With the purpose of preventing enterprises from engaging in actions involving any kind of discrimination, the National Government will boost the knowledge transfer and the transfer of the developed tools in the context of the National Human Rights Strategy in respect of rights to equality and non-discrimination.
4.4 Within the State Policy for the LGBTI population, which the National Government is preparing, business practices respecting, recognising and appreciating this population’s diversity will be supported.
4.6 The Council to the President for Women Equality will strengthen the coordination for the application of the international standards on women’s rights, intended to guarantee such rights in the business world.
National Action Plan – production and objectives
Existing plans, initiatives and strategies [page 8]
The Czech Republic has long set great store by the topic of human rights both generally and in connection with the activities of businesses. Human rights in a business context is covered, for example, by the following strategy documents:…
- Government Strategy for Gender Equality in the Czech Republic 2014-2020
The objectives of this Action Plan are consistent with the Strategic Framework of the Czech Republic 2030, in particular its tenets of “Let’s preserve and support diversity” and “Let’s respect fundamental human rights”. It supplements the Strategic Framework’s activities in the key areas of “People and society” and “Economic model”.
2. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
2.3 Actions Taken
Protection of human rights in the business sphere in Danish legislation [page 12]
General Danish law contributes to fulfilling Denmark’s duty under human rights treaties to which it is a party against human rights abuses by private actors, including businesses. For example, the Danish parliamentary act prohibits differential treatment in the labour market from 1996 protecting against discrimination based on race, gender, skin colour, religion, political opinion, sexual orientation or national, social or ethnic origin. It is also an offense to refuse to serve a person on the same terms as others involved in commercial or non-profit company because of his/hers race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation. The Working Environment Act of 2005 and the Act on the Work of Young Persons from 2005 implement the EU Directive 94/33/EC from 1994 on the protection of young workers.
Appendix 2: Overview of the implementation of the access to remedy
GP 27 Access to remedy
State-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms
Status in Denmark (initiatives implemented before the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles) [page 34]
…Denmark has mechanisms for dealing with cases of race, gender, disability, age, religious discrimination in employment or services, etc.
Introduction [page 11]
The Finnish social contract is based on interaction and on an aspiration to consensus. The desire to include everyone is also part of the open interaction. In Finland, there has been a desire to construct a society based on equality and to develop methods and a culture is sensitive to the impact of equality and gender. Equal treatment is taken into consideration in all the legislation and preparation of the national budget, various central government programmes and projects, and personnel policies.
1. The State Obligation to Protect Human Rights [page 13]
According to the equality provision of the Constitution, no one may be treated differently based on sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, handicap or other reason related to the individual. In addition, the Constitution states that children should be treated equally as individuals and that it should be possible for them to be involved in matters relating to them in accordance with their development. The current public authority, municipality or other body exercising public authority must ensure the realisation of fundamental and human rights.
II. The State’s Obligation to Protect Human Rights
The European Framework
8. Trade and Investment Agreements [page 30]
… ISDS [investor-State dispute settlement] makes it possible to obtain rulings against States that do not respect their commitments (for example, due to discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, etc.) …
- The AFD [The Agence Française de Développement] is working to reduce gender inequality in AFD-funded operations.
II. Business’ Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
3. Risk Analysis and Impact Assessment
Practical tools addressing specific issues [page 41]
- ILO has created a business helpdesk providing questions and answers, resources and tools on issues connected with … discrimination …
III. Access to Remedy
1. Judicial Mechanisms – At the National Level
The jurisdiction of French courts to hear criminal matters [page 49]
… More specifically, French legislation is strict in combating human rights violations by legal entities. Under French law, it is a criminal offence for companies to engage in activities that breach … equality laws (gender discrimination, anti-union discrimination, denying the freedom to work, corruption) …
Collective Actions [page 51]
… Given the different fields of application mentioned in the bill, collective actions will become a tool allowing plaintiffs to stop or remedy discrimination in the labour field and elsewhere…
2. Non- Judicial Mechanisms – At the National Level
2.5 The Defender of Rights [page 58]
… Any individual or legal entity can call on the Defender of Rights when they consider that they have been discriminated against or when they observe public or private representatives of law and order (police officers, customs officers, security guards, etc.) engaging in improper conduct …
… Given the Defender of Rights’ jurisdiction over discrimination-related matters, he/she plays a role in dealing with cases and mediation proceedings concerning CSR.
2.6 Grievance Mechanisms in Companies [pages 58-59]
Pursuant to UN Guiding Principle 29, “To make it possible for grievances to be addressed early and remediated directly, business enterprises should establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted”, companies establish their own grievance mechanisms …
In practice, grievance mechanisms in companies are generally: …
- Mechanisms dealing with specific issues: harassment, discrimination, specific activities or specific countries
Objective 25.3.1: Analyse existing situation regarding direct and indirect state involvement and define suggestions for creating effective mechanisms with the aim to prevent discrimination.
Objective indicator: Analytical document of existing situation through experts’ involvement.
- Planning actions of sharing recommendations and implementing them.
- Implementing agreed action plan.
Responsible agency: Administration of the Government of Georgia.
No partnership agency.
1. The State Duty to Protect
1.1 Basic rules of economic policy
Protection within states’ own territory – challenges within Germany
The current situation [page 15]
The precept of equal rights for men and women is constitutionally enshrined as a fundamental right in Article 3(2) of the Basic Law. Participation by men and women on an equal footing at all levels is a top priority of the Federal Government. Since 1 May 2015, for example, the Act on the Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Private and the Public Sector has been in force. The aim of the Act is to increase significantly the percentage of women in executive positions in the medium term with a view to ultimately achieving parity with men. The principle of equal pay for equal work has also been firmly enshrined in the European treaties since the adoption of the Treaty of Rome.
Section 2. Current legislative and regulatory framework
Equality [page 14]
The government is committed to promoting equality in all aspects of Irish society. The statutory-based Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission works towards the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunities. It is tasked with providing information and advice to persons who consider themselves discriminated against on any of the nine grounds in employment or non-employment situations. Recent positive developments on equality issues include the introduction of statutory paternity benefit in 2016 and the launch of a new National strategy for Women and girls in may 2017. Work is also progressing on a new equality/disability (miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. Ireland has been elected, for the first time, to serve on the United Nations Commission on the status of Women for the term 2017-21. This will provide an opportunity to build on Ireland’s international engagement on the full realisation of the rights of women and girls. The government has pledged to work to strengthen the voice and functioning of the Commission and to promote the participation of civil society in its work.
Annex 1 – list of additional and ongoing actions to be carried out across government
Development Cooperation [page 21]
- Promote the inclusive economic growth policy priority set out in “one World, one Future: Ireland’s Policy for international development”, by encouraging and supporting partner governments to ensure that business and economic regulation and legislation implements national and international commitments to human rights such as those relating to gender equality – in particular promoting women’s access to formal employment, decent work, and the rights of marginalised groups.
I. Statement of Commitment
To protect human rights, Italy undertakes to:
- Continue to protect, promote universal respect for, and observance of, all human rights, fundamental freedoms and non-discrimination principles, with special attention to the rights of most vulnerable groups, such as women, children, disabled, LGBTI people, migrants and asylum seekers, and persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities
- Encourage companies, also in view of the updating of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, in line with the commitments undertaken with the Agenda 2030 and the role that the private sector will be called to play in its implementation, to voluntarily commit themselves at national, regional and international level to prevent and redress potential human rights adverse impacts;… and to enhance the use of indicators of quality, sustainable development, equality and gender.
C. National Priorities
With the aim of analysing specific matters related to the Italian context, the NAP mainly focuses on six priorities representing the business and human rights areas that NAP intends to address…
- Tackling discrimination and inequality and promoting equal opportunities.
A. Foundational principles
Italy is fully committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. The Italian Constitution, within the framework of the basic principles of human dignity, equality and solidarity, sets forth several provisions ensuring the right to individual freedom, the right to equal treatment, the right to freedom of conscience and worship, as well as the right to freedom of expression and association, the right to a fair trial, the right to health…
… Italian Government expects then that business enterprises comply with all domestic legislation, which includes – among others – specific provisions regarding … the right to equal treatment …
- Encourage companies in the dissemination of anti-discrimination culture by: i) promoting corporate policies and best practices on inclusivity and Diversity Management also via the institutional support to the adhesion, implementation and assessment of the Carta per le Pari Opportunità e l’Uguaglianza sul Lavoro (corporate voluntary initiative launched by Assolombarda in 2009 – which participates in the European Diversity Charter Platform promoted by the EU Commission GD Justice – with the aim of disseminating in Member States a movement to tackle prejudices and enhance talents in diversity); ii) promoting bodies (such as the Osservatorio Aziendale and the Disability Manager) that will have the aim of promoting the inclusion of workers with disabilities within the workplace, as foreseen in the II Program of Action on Disability; iii) increasing the awareness within the workplace on the serious issue of sexual abuse and domestic violence; iv) providing incentives for corporate training on inclusion, diversity management, gender balance and gender mainstreaming with specific focus on women empowerment and LGBTI rights.
- Strengthen the implementation of socially responsible public procurement rules by adopting a comprehensive framework of reference for bidders coordinated by A.N.AC and covering: … equal opportunities and non-discrimination.
- Reinforce the action of the Italian Development Cooperation towards gender equality also by supporting women economic empowerment in post conflict countries, in line with the three pillars of the United Nations (peace and security, development, human rights) and the operational and normative framework developed within the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security”.
1. Objectives and Measures
Objective 1: Ensuring State’s duty to protect, defend and respect human rights [page 1]
Protection of human rights, ensuring equal employment, social and other opportunities, gender equality, reducing gender pay gap – these are fundamental values to be pursued in labour relations and regulation of corporate activities. The Government has the obligation to ensure the above mentioned human rights in these areas. Government’s actions and measures include legislative instruments aimed at the development of a legislative framework providing for responsible business practices and elimination of corruption in the public sector. Great attention is paid to non-discrimination measures, including education on human rights, various studies and other measures that promote non-discrimination and respect for human rights. The Government also supports specific initiatives for promotion of gender equality, encourages the development of non-governmental organizations and provides financial assistance for initiatives of non-governmental organizations in this field.
C. Measures related to research and training on non-discrimination and other human rights [page 2]
- Research and training in non-discrimination. The Inter-institutional Action Plan for the Promotion of Non-discrimination for 2012-2014 was approved by Resolution No 1281 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 2 November 2011, aims to ensure the implementation of educational measures on promotion of non-discrimination and equal opportunities, to increase legal awareness, mutual understanding and tolerance in terms of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and religion, to inform the public about manifestations of discrimination in Lithuania and its negative impact on equal opportunities of certain social groups to actively participate in public life.
to conduct a study into the reasons for changes in societal attitudes and causes of discrimination, as well as the analysis of the results;
to organise seminars, informal education training and discussions on the topics of equal opportunities and non-discrimination for civil servants, trade union representatives and other target groups5;in light of the priorities for 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, announced by the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as the EC), to organise informational and qualification advancement seminars and other events on manifestations of discrimination and other human rights issues6.
It should be noted that under the Programme of the Government for 2012-20167 a working group was set up for drafting an Inter-institutional Action Plan for the Promotion of Non discrimination for 2015-2017.
D. Measures related to research and training on equality between men and women [page 5]
- Research a training on equal opportunities between men and women. National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men for 2010-2014, approved by Resolution No 530 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 4 May 2010 and the Action Plan for the implementation of the National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men for 2010-2014, adopted by Order No Al-323 of the Minister of Social Security and Labour of 7 July 2010, aims to ensure consistent, comprehensive and systematic cross-field implementation of the provisions of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, as well as European Union (hereinafter referred to as the EU) and international commitments regarding gender equality.
to conduct an extended study and evaluation of the development as regards treatment of women and men in all sphere to organise seminars to encourage employers to systematically promote equal treatment of women and men in the workplace and equal opportunities for women and men as regards access to employment or promotion to a senior position to organise a round table discussion on the role of social partners in the implementation of equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market;
- to organise seminars on discriminatory treatment of women and men in education;
- to organise seminars in all regions of Lithuania on the implementation of provisional special measures;
- to organise a competition for employers ensuring equal treatment for men and women.
Objective 2: promoting corporate responsibility and respect in the field of business and human rights
B. Government measures encouraging business enterprises to secure respect for human rights [page 8]
C. Planned measures
- Promotion of social and socially responsible business. The National Progress Programme 2014-2020 approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania by Resolution No 1482 of 28 November 2012 (hereinatler referred to as National Progress Programme) establishes priorities for the implementation of Lithuanian progress strategy ‘Lithuania 2030’. Lithuanian Progress Strategy ‘Lithuania 2030’ defines smart economy as able to compete in the world, generating high added value and based on knowledge, integrity and social responsibility. Task ‘Implementation of sustainable development principals in businesses’ of the Lithuanian Progress Strategy goal 3 ‘Promotion of business productivity and sustainable development’ presents measures related to promotion of CSR and social businesses:
– to promote social and socially responsible business perceiving it as modern business practice;
– to promote social business by establishing a centre for competencies and good practice, accelerators, work environments for social business, mobility incentives and implementing other measures.
The National Progress Strategy also introduces horizontal principals related to sustainable development, gender equality and non-discrimination.
Objective 3: ensuring access to effective remedy
A. Implemented measures [page 9]
I. Improvement of procedures for providing state-guaranteed legal aid. The aim 1s to improve the procedures for providing state-guaranteed legal aid: to guarantee that legal regulation of state-guaranteed legal aid is carried out with respect to principles of equality, priority of peaceful settlement of disputes, quality and availability.
Introduction (pg. 7)
Among the first signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is an open economy democracy where the rule of law reigns. The equality of all human rights are principles enshrined in the Constitution and the laws of the country.
… Regular contacts with, among others, the four national human rights institutions took place in the context [of drafting the NAP]:
- the purpose of the Equal Treatment Center is to promote, analyze and monitor the equality of all persons without discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability and age;
Part I – Rational Framework for the development, adoption and implementation of the NAP
1. International Context
1.2. European Union (pg. 13)
Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are values enshrined in the European Treaties.
The Dutch NAP does not make an explicit reference to Equality and Non-Discrimination.
1. Global developments and CSR
1.2 Human Rights and States Obligations [page 13]
Human rights are the fundamental rights of the individual that apply irrespective of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other belief, property, birth and other factors. It is the state’s duty to protect human rights, both by avoiding human rights abuses themselves and ensuring that human rights are respected by private parties under their jurisdiction. Protection of human rights is laid down in international agreements and customary international law, which is binding on states. Any violation of these rights by a state is considered to be a violation of international law.
2. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
2.1 The State as legislator [page 18]
In 2014, a number of human rights were also enshrined in the Norwegian Constitution. The duty of business enterprises to respect human rights is set out in Norwegian legislation, for example…the Gender Equality Act.
Pillar I: The State’s duty to protect human rights
Regulations relating to business and human rights under Polish law [page 8]
The Constitution introduces the principle of equality before the law and the total prohibition of discrimination for any reason, including in economic life (Article 32).
The standards set forth in the international agreements are reflected in Chapter II of the Labour Code, which contains the basic principles of labour law. The following deserve a mention here:… the principle of equality of employees (Article112 ), the prohibition against discrimination in employment (Article 113 )…
Employment and occupation equality [pages 9-12]
As regards the principle of equal treatment of employees and the prohibition of discrimination in employment, this is clearly established in further provisions of the Labour Code, in particular in Chapter II a, ‘Equal treatment in employment’ (Articles 183a –183e). Counteracting discrimination in employment is one of the basic duties of employers. Employers are also obliged to provide employees with the text of the provisions on equal treatment in employment in the form of written information distributed on the premises of a work establishment or to provide employees with access to the legislation otherwise accepted by a given employer.
The Labour Code sets out an open catalogue of grounds for discrimination. In Article 113 , the Labour Code establishes a prohibition of any discrimination on any grounds 10 whatsoever. Similarly, Article 183a § 1 of the LC, which introduces the obligation to treat employees equally in respect of establishing or terminating an employment relationship, employment conditions, conditions for promotion, as well as access to training in order to improve professional qualifications, in particular regardless of sex, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, trade union membership, ethnic origin, creed, sexual orientation, as well as regardless of whether employment is for a definite or indefinite period of time or full-time or part-time employment.
The Labour Code contains definitions of equal treatment, direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Equal treatment in employment means that there must be no discrimination whatsoever, directly or indirectly, whatever the grounds. Discrimination is also taken to include:
- practices related to encouraging another person to violate the principle of equal treatment in employment or ordering a person to violate that principle;
- harassment or unwanted conduct with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of an employee or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive atmosphere.
Concerning harassment and sexual harassment, the Labour Code guarantees employees that their submission to harassment or sexual harassment or their rejection of harassment or sexual harassment may not result in any negative consequences for said employees. According to Article 183b of the LC, a violation of the principle of equal treatment in employment occurs, with some exceptions, when an employer treats an employee differently on one or more grounds with the effect of, in particular:
1) terminating or rejecting the establishment of an employment relationship;
2) establishing disadvantageous conditions of remuneration for work or other terms of employment, or not being selected for promotion or not being granted other workrelated benefits;
3) not being chosen to participate in training organised to improve professional qualifications unless the employer proves that this was done for objective reasons.
In discrimination cases, the burden of proof is shifted from the employee to the employer. The employee should, however, present facts that would lend credence to a case of discrimination.
The Labour Code guarantees the right to equal remuneration for the same work or for work of equal value, including all components of remuneration, regardless of their name or characteristics. At the same time, it should be noted that the Labour Code does not explicitly define the concept of “the same work”. A person against whom an employer has violated the principle of equal treatment in employment has the right to compensation of at least the amount of the minimum remuneration for their work. The Labour Code also guarantees other rights to employees who assert their rights. The fact that an employee exercises his or her rights due to a violation of the principle of equal treatment in employment may not constitute a reason for disadvantageous treatment of the employee and may not result in any negative consequences for the employee. In particular, it may not constitute grounds for termination of an employment relationship by an employer, with or without notice. This regulation also applies to employees who have provided any form of support to an employee who has exercised his or her rights on account of a violation of the principle of equal treatment in employment.
According to Article 943 of the LC, the employer is obligated to take action against workplace mobbing, which includes acts or behaviour towards an employee or 11 directed against an employee involving persistent and long-lasting harassment or bulling of an employee causing specific negative consequences. An employee who was harassed at work and developed health problems may claim an appropriate amount of money from the employer as a pecuniary compensation for the damage sustained. An employee who terminates his or her employment contract as a result of workplace bullying has the right to claim compensation from his or her employer in an amount not lower than the minimum remuneration for work, as specified under separate provisions. The employee’s statement on the termination of his or her employment contract must be made in writing, stating the reason for termination. Workplace bullying at one’s place of work or in connection with one’s work means a systematic repetition of certain behaviour directed at an employee that results in, e.g., the elimination of such an employee from the group. Particularly important in this case is the health aspect, which distinguishes the phenomenon of workplace bullying from an ordinary conflict.
Ensuring equal treatment with respect to, among other things, undertaking and pursuing economic or professional activity is governed by the Act on the Implementation of Certain Regulations of the European Union Regarding Equal Treatment. This law implemented the following European Union directives: 1. Council Directive 86/613/EEC of 11 December 1986 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity, including agriculture, in a self-employed capacity, and on the protection of selfemployed women during pregnancy and motherhood; 2. Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin; 3. Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation; 4. Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services; 5. Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation; 6. Directive 2014/54/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on measures to facilitate the exercise of the rights conferred on workers in the context of the free movement of workers (OJ L 128, 30.4.2014) The law determines the areas and means of preventing violations of the principle of equal treatment on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation, as well as the competent authorities in this respect. The law applies to individuals, legal entities, and organisational units. The law (Article 3) defines the phenomenon of direct and indirect discrimination and explains the concepts of harassment, sexual harassment, unequal treatment, and the principle of equal treatment. According to Article 4, the law applies to, among other things, undertaking vocational training (including further training, improvement, professional retraining, and apprenticeship); the conditions for undertaking and conducting an economic or professional activity (including, in particular, employment or work under a civil-law contract); joining and taking part in trade unions, employers’ organisations, and 12 professional self-governing bodies; and also exercising the rights that members of these organisations are entitled to; having access to, and the opportunity to use, labour market instruments and services, human resources development and unemployment prevention, social security, healthcare, education and higher education, and services, including housing services, objects, and acquiring rights and energy, if they are offered to the public. Article 8 of the law prohibits unequal treatment of individuals on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, denomination, belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation as regards the conditions of undertaking and conducting economic or professional activity or working under a civil-law contract. It is also prohibited to encourage or order unequal treatment (Article 9). The law also identifies legal remedies for the protection of the principle of equal treatment and the competent authorities to deal with violations. Everyone whose right to equal treatment has been violated has the right to compensation. Employees employed under a contract of mandate or specific work contract have the right to claim compensation from their employer. However, they must justify their claims against the employer, i.e., lend credibility to their claim that there has been a violation of the principle of equal treatment. In this case, the employer is obligated to prove that no violation occurred. According to the provisions of the law, a victim of unequal treatment can only claim compensation, as the law does not provide for the possibility of awarding redress for harm caused by unequal treatment. Victims of discrimination must exercise their rights in court, in which case, the provisions of the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure apply. Employers employing individuals under civil-law contracts are required to comply with the anti-discrimination provisions of the Act on the Implementation of Certain Regulations of the European Union Regarding Equal Treatment; otherwise, they may be exposed to costs due to possible compensation proceedings. The law introduces the principle of reversed proof of burden, as does the Labour Code. According to this regulation, anyone who alleges a violation of the principle of equal treatment should lend credibility to the fact of its violation, and the party that has been accused of discrimination must try to prove that they have not violated the principle.
Freedom of Association [page 13]
The Labour Code prohibits the unequal treatment of employees with respect to establishing and terminating an employment, terms of employment, terms of promotion, as well as access to training in order to improve professional qualifications, in particular on the grounds of trade union membership (Chapter II a, Equal Treatment in Employment).
An employee may seek compensation from his or her employer before a court of law for a violation of the principle of equal treatment in employment, which cannot be lower than the minimum remuneration for work stipulated in separate provisions.
5. Planned changes in national legislation:
Addition of general principles in administrative proceedings:
The principle of proportionality (relevance), impartiality, and the principle of equal treatment [page 23]
The principles of impartiality and equal treatment, which should be of particular importance in cases involving several parties, have also been included in the provisions of the Act Amending the Administrative Procedure Code. The principle of impartiality means that administration authorities and their employees should not be guided in their actions by any interests or motives beyond the law that might violate the interests of the parties. In accordance with the principle of equal treatment, all parties in the same situation should be treated in a comparable manner without any discrimination. The principle of deepening citizens’ confidence in the state authorities, a fundamental premise for establishing friendly relations between the administration and citizens, needs to be defined in a more concrete way. One of the basic criteria for assessing the extent to which the administration is friendly to the individual is the predictability of the actions of the public administration authorities and their respect for the individual’s interests. A party that files documents with an authority, generally in cases involving investment expenditure or requiring prior involvement of material resources, including time, has the right to arrange their interests in the belief that, acting in good faith and with respect for the law, it does not risk adverse legal consequences of their decisions, especially the effects that they could not predict at the time they were taken. The administration authorities are required to respect the principle of legitimate expectations so that the party is able to plan its activities in a rational manner. This principle is based on the premise that the parties’ expectations are legitimate if they relate to lawful and possible actions, and that the authority, acting within the limits of the law, will adhere to its established practice of resolving matters in similar factual and legal situations. The authority should not, without special and important reasons, depart from established and uniform practice. The adopted provisions also include the principle of proportionality, which requires administration authorities to undertake only such acts that cause an inconvenience for parties that are necessary and proportionate to the intended purpose. Engaging, in the course of proceedings, in activities onerous for the party, in particular involving a limitation of the party’s rights or creating a burden for the party, a public administration authority should take into account the interests of the parties and interfere in those interests only if and to the extent that it is necessary to achieve the intended purpose, in particular resolving the issue in accordance with the law. 11 Cf. J. Zimmermann, Prawo administracyjne, 2014, p. 45. 24 These principles are expressed in, e.g., Articles 5, 6, and 8 of the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour.
7. Planned and ongoing activities [page 27]
Inclusion of references to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in government documents and action plans, including in the National Action Programme for Equal Treatment.
Pillar II: The Corporate responsibility to respect human rights
2. Dialogue and exchange of knowledge and experience in implementing CSR [pages 29-30]
There are four categories of corporate activities that relate to corporate social responsibility: corporate governance, employees, the environment, and the product. The activities conducted within these categories may include:… 2) …recognition of the importance of diversity in the workplace…
9. Support in the implementation the UN Guiding Principles by companies
Equal treatment policy [pages 35-36]
The obligation to treat all employees equally regardless of their sex, i.e., the legal prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex is one of the fundamental human rights under the applicable law. Equal treatment is based on the principle of equal pay for the same work or work of equal value, equality in decision-making processes, and equal access to training and promotion.
The key areas in this respect include: – combating discrimination in the workplace (including on grounds of sex); – equal access for men and women to promotions and training; – equal remuneration for the same work or work of equal value; – increasing the participation of women in corporate decision-making bodies; – diversity management, including employee recruitment and selection, talent management and payroll policies, also in the sphere of an enterprise’s organisational culture; – providing employees with instruments and mechanisms to enable a good work-life balance. 36 Measures planned by the government to support the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles in these areas focus on working with business representatives, representatives of social partners, and non-governmental organisations dealing with the protection and pursuit of equal opportunities, e.g., through: – supporting initiatives to improve compliance with human rights standards, including initiatives to strengthen gender equality and diversity in the workplace; – promoting available solutions and developing, in collaboration with business and social partners, new tools and methods to promote awareness of human rights and equal treatment in the workplace; – supporting initiatives to promote available solutions and developing, in collaboration with business representatives and social partners, new tools and methods to promote awareness in the area of implementation of equaltreatment policies at enterprises; – promoting knowledge about the application of compensatory measures in the workplace, or promoting equal opportunities for people belonging to disadvantaged groups; – measures promoting the benefits of diversity policy and equal opportunities, e.g., balanced participation of women and men in decision-making bodies (promotional and information campaigns, projects co-financed from EU funds, support for initiatives undertaken by entrepreneurs); – promoting good practices with a view to ensuring equal opportunities by enterprises, e.g., in employee recruitment and selection, talent management, protection against discrimination, management of the remuneration system, etc.; – supporting initiatives to build a broad coalition for creating a working environment that is free of discrimination and based on the principle of equal opportunities. These measures should involve a wide range of actors, both state institutions and private companies, NGOs, academia, the media, and social partners; – supporting the development of research and analysis of social inequalities, which may serve as the basis for any possible remedial actions.
Pilar III: Access to Remedy
3. National Labour Inspectorate (PIP): an institution that oversees business and human rights
Tasks of the National Labour Inspectorate in the field of combating discrimination in access to employment and in relation to the provision of services by employment agencies [pages 48-49]
Respecting the dignity and other personal interests of employees is a fundamental duty of employers. This also includes the prohibition of unequal treatment and discrimination at work. The activities of the National Labour Inspectorate to prevent and combat unequal treatment and discrimination in labour relations include the implementation of oversight and inspection measures, as well as prevention and information. Oversight and inspection activities are carried out as a result of, among other things, complaints, notices, and indications of irregularities sent to the National Labour Inspectorate, but also within the framework of inspections carried out in accordance with the Inspectorate’s action programme (thematic inspections), where issues of equal treatment and discrimination are addressed. Inspections of employment agencies include audits of the implementation of the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex, age, disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, political beliefs, and religious denomination or trade union affiliation of individuals for whom the agency sought employment or other paid work. By verifying compliance with the law in relation to temporary workers, labour inspectors make sure that there has been no violation of the prohibition on unequal treatment of temporary workers—with respect to working conditions and other conditions of employment—as compared to workers employed by the employer in the same or a similar position. As part of inspections concerning the legality of employment, labour inspectors examine issues related to respecting the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination in access to employment. These activities are aimed at disclosing offences with regard to a refusal to employ a candidate for a vacant position or place of vocational training on the basis of their gender, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, ethnic origin, religious denomination, or sexual orientation. Most often, they involve the examination of job advertisements in which employers post illegal criteria for people who apply for employment, where the nature of the work does not justify their use (e.g., relating to gender or age). Labour inspectors also check compliance with the principle of equal treatment of foreign nationals in terms of working conditions and other conditions of employment, 49 compared to Polish citizens employed in corresponding or similar positions. Promotion of the idea of equal treatment and non-discrimination in the labour market, especially with respect to foreign nationals, is supported by projects co-financed from European funds, as well as PIP publications (leaflets, brochures, guides) addressed to a wide audience.
Preventing discrimination involves dedicating special attention to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the rights of children, the disabled, the elderly, lesbian and gay people, and other minorities. (pg. 5-6)
Principle 1 – State’s duty to protect HR
Special laws further define the general principle of equality and individual constitutional provisions, to effectively ensure the implementation of human rights. To guarantee genuine equality, the Constitution, the general act prohibiting discrimination, and the special act on gender equality explicitly stipulate the basis for implementing special measures or positive discrimination in cases when derogations from the equal treatment principle are justified by lawful ends, and the means to attain this goal are both adequate and necessary. (pg. 8)
Institutions specialised in human rights protection and promotion include: the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Advocate of the Principle of Equality, coordinators for equal opportunities for women and men, the Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities, the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for National Minorities, and numerous working bodies established by the Government or operating within ministries. (pg. 8-9)
Principle 3a – Equal opportunities for women and men
Slovenian legislation prohibits direct and indirect discrimination and provides for the obligation to ensure equal treatment regardless of gender. It also envisages positive, protective and other measures on gender equality. These include the obligation of the employer – except in justified cases – not to limit access to vacancies based on gender, not to request information from candidates or condition employment on family or marital status, pregnancy or family planning. The employer must also provide equal pay for the same work and for work of the same value to workers regardless of gender. (pg. 13)
Principle 3d – Non-financial reporting
[A]ll companies subject to audit have to outline the policy of representation diversity in their management or supervisory bodies (diversity based on gender, age, education). (pg. 23)
Principle 5 – Oversight
The criteria for funding or co-funding development cooperation programmes or projects now also include proven corporate social responsibility, respect for a human rights-based approach, strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment. (pg. 25)
Principle 6 – Planned Measures
Slovenia will take account of the following considerations: respect for corporate social responsibility, respect for human rights-based approaches, strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment. (pg. 29)
Principle 8 – Gov’t agencies observe HR obligations
The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Slovenia provides training for public employees, particularly equal opportunities coordinators, related to procedures for gender mainstreaming into sectoral policies. The Ministry created guidelines for drafting action plans for equal opportunities for women and men in local communities. (pg. 30)
Principle 8 – Planned activities/orientations
The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Slovenia will continue to provide regular training for equal opportunities coordinators at the ministries and in local communities on the topic of gender equality. (pg. 30)
Principle 27 – Advocate of the Principle of Equality
The Protection against Discrimination Act, which entered into force in May 2016, established the Advocate of the Principle of Equality, an independent state institution for protection against discrimination. The Advocate is responsible for, among other things, making recommendations to state institutions, local community institutions, bearers of public authority, employers, and business and other entities. (pg. 40)
Principle 27 – Planned Measures: Advocate of the Principle of Equality
Slovenia has established the Advocate of the Principle of Equality, which is tasked with offering recommendations to employers, economic operators and other entities on preventing and eliminating discrimination, conducting inspections and providing independent assistance in the form of counselling and legal advice to parties engaged in other administrative and court procedures related to discrimination. The Advocate’s mandate also includes the prevention of discrimination and addressing reports and initiatives in the private sector. (pg. 41)
Annex I – Human Rights Due Diligence
Among the aspects of human rights that business enterprises are obliged to respect are all human rights, including guaranteeing non-discrimination and the equal treatment of all persons, gender equality… (pg. 44-45)
D. Tasks for the Third NAP
Institutionalization of Human Rights Management
2. Establish and implement measures for corporate sustainability management [page 5]
- Reflect ‘respecting human rights·prohibition on discrimination’ ‘work-life balance’ on the criteria of factual survey on corporate sustainability management and reward assessment.
5. Support corporate with gender equality management
- Support gender equality education to managerial staff in private business·public institution and of human resources department.
– Conduct gender equality education to managerial staff or human resources manager who has strong sayings on decision making and recruitment.
Guiding Principle 1
Spain is party to all of the main treaties on human rights and, specifically, to the following: …
- the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination …
- the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women …
Spain has also ratified the eight fundamental Conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO)
Guiding Principle 2
Likewise, an awareness-raising strategy will be carried out on how to avoid discriminatory practices in public and private companies (by distinction, exclusion or preference) because of gender, age, ethnic origin, race, religion, disability, political affiliation or union, sexual orientation, nationality, marital status, socioeconomic origin or any other personal distinction.
Guiding Principle 6
The Government will ensure strict respect for human rights by companies in commercial transactions with other companies, establishing the necessary measures so as to: not discriminate against SMEs; respect the provisions of the Treaty of the EU on nondiscrimination; equal treatment and transparency: and no administrative charges are to be added to contracting authorities or companies.
1. The State duty to protect human rights
Swedish legislation to protect human rights [page 10]
The purpose of the Discrimination Act (2008:567) is to combat discrimination and in other ways promote equal rights and opportunities regardless of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, impairment, sexual orientation or age. The Act applies to employment in a broad sense, educational activities, labour market policy activities and employment services not under public contract, starting or running a business, supply of goods, services and housing, organisation of a public gathering or event, and health and medical care and social services.
3. Access to Remedy
Legal remedies provided by the State [ page 15]
The Office of the Equality Ombudsman is a government agency responsible for monitoring compliance with the Discrimination Act. The Ombudsman is to try in the first instance to induce those to whom the Act applies to comply with it voluntarily. However, the Ombudsman may also bring a court action on behalf of an individual who consents to this. Those who violate the Discrimination Act may be found liable to pay compensation for discrimination to the person discriminated against.
Annex: Measures planned
The Government aims to raise its ambitions in foreign trade, including in CSR and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. To achieve these aims, a number of concrete measures will be implemented by 2017.
Regulations and legislation [page 27]
The EU has adopted new procurement directives…The recitals of the Directives expressly state that the contracting authorities or entities in their contracts can require suppliers, in the performance of the contract, to comply in substance with the provisions of the basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions. Such conditions might also be intended to favour the implementation of measures for the promotion of equality of women and men at work, the increased participation of women in the labour market and the reconciliation of work and private life.. or the recruitment of more disadvantaged persons than are required under national legislation.
2 National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2020-23
2.1 Pillar 1: state duty to protect
2.1.3 The State-business nexus
Guiding Principles 4 to 5
Measure 11: Human rights due diligence by public-private development partnerships
As laid down in the Code of Conduct for Contractual Partners of the FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs], respect for human rights and gender equality are two of the values which should be promoted in the interests of Switzerland. All individuals, companies or other entities that work with the FDFA are required to contribute to the promotion of these values and to act in accordance with them, and with the legal order.
2.2 Pillar 2: the corporate responsibility to respect human rights
a number of Swiss companies …play an active part in eliminating all forms of professional and employment discrimination.
2.2.2 Operational principles: human rights due diligence
Guiding Principles 16 to 21
Measure 28: Promotion of gender equality
The Federal Council recognises the importance of addressing the disproportionate impact that business activities can have on women and girls.
The private sector is fundamental to advancing gender equality and women’s rights. In December 2018, parliament passed an amendment to the Gender Equality Act49 which adds pay equity to companies’ mandatory due diligence obligations. The revised legislation also requires public and private sector employers with at least 100 employees to conduct regular equal pay analyses. This new requirement will take effect on 1 July 2020. An independent body reviews the findings and the employer must inform the workforce of its conclusions. Companies which are found to have an equal pay policy are exempt from further assessment. The new provisions, which will take effect on 1 July 2020 for a period of 12 years, will be evaluated nine years after they come into force.
The federal government provides a free equal pay self-test tool, Logib, which allows companies with fewer than 50 employees to check for instances of wage inequality in their workforce.
|Achieve equal pay for men and women.||Number of companies using the Logib tool.
Example of a public sector employer publishing detailed findings from its equal pay analysis as well as the conclusions of the independent auditor.
Example of a listed company publishing detailed results of its equal pay analysis in their annual report.
|FOGE [Federal Office for Gender Equality ]|
The UK 2013 NAP
The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
The existing UK legal and policy framework
The relevant legal framework in the UK includes employment regulations that require companies not to discriminate against employees on grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation and religious belief, and environmental regulations.
New actions planned
The Government will do the following to reinforce its implementation of its commitments under Pillar 1 of the UNGPs:
(vi) Promote new project activity on raising awareness and tackling the negative impacts of business activity, including on the human rights of groups like indigenous peoples, women, national or ethnic minorities, religious and linguistic minorities, children, persons with disabilities, and migrant workers and their families, by tasking our diplomatic missions in countries where these are concerns.
The UK 2016 Updated NAP
2. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
The existing UK legal and policy framework
- Examples of wide ranging legislation protecting human rights in the business context include… the Data Protection Act 1998 which applies to companies and ensures respect for the privacy of individuals.
Actions taken [page 9]
- To give effect to the UN Guiding Principles, the Government has:
(ix) strengthened international rules relating to digital surveillance, including leading work in the Wassenaar Arrangement to adopt new controls on specific technologies of concern. Specifically new controls were agreed on:
equipment and software for creating and delivering “intrusion software” designed to be covertly installed on devices to extract data. “internet surveillance systems” which can monitor and analyse internet traffic and extract information about individuals and their communications.
3. Government expectations on business
Actions taken to support business implementation of the UNGPs [page 15]
- To help businesses to fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights the
(iii) partnered with the Cyber Growth Partnership industry guidance on assessing human rights risks relating to cyber security exports, with techUK and input from civil society. https://www.techuk.org/images/CGP_Docs/Assessing_Cyber_Security_Ex port_Risks_website_FINAL_3.pdf
Box – Cyber Export Guidance [page 17]
The expansion of ‘cyber space’ has brought huge economic and social benefits. However, it also poses risks and new opportunities for hackers, criminals and terrorists. To help mitigate these risks, companies have developed security products and services which defend networks from malicious activity. In many countries, such as the UK, these products are used legitimately, including by law enforcement authorities, in accordance with domestic and international law obligations. However, in some countries which do not adhere to their international human rights obligations, there is a risk that the same products are used in ways that could breach state’s legal obligations, e.g. to restrict freedom of expression or to contribute to internal repression.
Normally, exports that could cause harm, such as arms, are covered by the export-licensing regime. However, many cyber capabilities, products and services are not listed. This problem was recognized by the Cyber Growth Partnership a joint body representing industry, academia and government. The FCO worked with techUK, a technology trade association, and the Institute for Human Rights and Business to produce practical guidance for companies on managing human rights risks.
“Assessing Cyber Security Export Risks: Human Rights and National Security” was published in November 2014. It is the first guidance for this sector in the world, and sets out:
- the different sorts of potential harm associated with particular cyber capabilities;
- a process to help companies assess country specific risks and to evaluate business partners and re-sellers; and potential mitigation options for avoiding or reducing risks.
Annex II: Key domestic executive orders and regulatory efforts
Executive order [page 26]
Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity” (E.O. 13672) prohibits covered Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against employees and job applicants employment on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity. The E.O. modifies a prior order (E.O. 11246) which prohibited employment discrimination by companies doing business with the Federal Government on the bases of race, color, religion, sex and national origin and required those companies to take affirmative steps to ensure nondiscrimination on those grounds.