States questioned over lack of openness on anti-discrimination law

THE CGi is once again challenging the Committee for Employment and Social Security (ESS) for its lack of transparency over the costs and impact of the new anti-discrimination legislation that is due to be debated by the States next week.

The move follows the industry body’s repeated requests over the past few months for ESS and its President, Deputy Peter Roffey, to clarify the budget for setting up and administering the law. The CGi has recently discovered from sources within government that no impact assessment has ever been carried out, there are no figures regarding the level of discrimination being currently evidenced in the Bailiwick and the costs are far higher than admitted.

CGi Chairman, Dave Newman, said: ‘We don’t believe it is unreasonable to ask the States to confirm how the law will affect the civil service as the Island’s largest employer and also for the costs. Up to now, Deputy Peter Roffey, has publicly dismissed our estimate of £850,000 per year but not provided any proof as to what the figure actually is nor has he responded to our submissions to ESS.

‘It is now clear that no impact analysis has been conducted and our own investigations, gleaned from the States’ website itself, is that it will, in fact, cost £1.24m to set up and run and the £850,000 only applies from year three. So we would now publicly like to ask Deputy Roffey, can he confirm which is the correct figure? The CGi is also mindful that these costs only cover the first part of the proposed law and the second part could see an even higher financial impact.’

In written submissions to ESS in February and September, the CGi asked that the measures introduced are appropriate and proportionate to the Bailiwick’s needs and circumstances. Given that the driving force behind the original initiative was disability, the CGi notes that the scope of the legislation is now far wider and encompasses carer status, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, age, sex, pregnancy & maternity, marital status and gender reassignment.

Back in 2003, the previous Advisory & Finance committee advised that it is ‘mindful that any legislative measures must be both appropriate and proportionate to the Bailiwick’s circumstances.’ The CGi believes that the proposed morphing of the law into these several different areas is making the legislation ambiguous – less focussed on its original intentions – and considerably more challenging to large and small businesses alike to implement and enforce.

In the UK, the anti-discrimination legislation is eased for companies with few staff as it recognises that smaller businesses are not able to operate in the same way as large organisations. Along similar lines, the CGi has requested if it would be possible to waiver parts of the new law by establishing a threshold of less than 5 or 10 employees. This includes a number of businesses within its membership and would help reduce the burden of the new legislation. Amendments currently being proposed by Deputy Chris Blin address this issue and are fully supported by the CGi.

Mr Newman added: ‘As we have said on numerous occasions, we have no issues with an anti-discrimination law, provided it is proportionate. This issue has been discussed for years and a great deal of hard work undertaken. There appears, though, to be little evidence of a substantial current problem and the States has neither proved that there is or how many people it will affect, nor how much it may be liable to pay out in claims through tribunals. I have met with a number of stakeholders who have a vested interest in the proposed legislation and none of them has been able to answer these simple questions.’

‘When Islanders are being asked to increase their own tax burden through income tax, a rise in social security, the continuous and repeated refrain of GST and inflation, the tax payer and the small business owners – that the CGi supports and represents – all have a right to know where the money is going and why it is needed. It is pertinent to mention that, only recently, The President of Policy & Resources quite rightly warned States members that Guernsey will run very short of money as demands for increased expenditure outstrip expectations.’

The CGi is to provide its members with information and guidance and run workshops in the lead up the introduction of the legislation.

Costs of setting up running the new ADL 
02 March 2020
Point 6 – ESS Budget increase   
To increase the employment relations service£90,000
To conduct a survey (possibly a one off fee)£40,000
Point 7 – ESS Budget increase   
Annual cost, increasing £20,000 per year£305,000
‘Pro-active’ work£45,000
Set-up costs and awareness raising for three years£395,000
Restructure tribunal services and requested to be ongoing annually£370,000
Total£1,245,000 per year
Note this excludes the initial outlay and ongoing costs of an office.   

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