What does the law say?

Obligations of Employers under the Law

Employers’ obligations in relation to equality and human rights are set out under a number acts and codes of practice, in particular under:

The Employment Equality Acts 1998- 2015

These prohibit discrimination under the nine grounds in employment, including vocational training and work experience.  They also prohibit sexual harassment or harassment on the basis of any of the nine grounds.  In addition employers should make reasonable accommodation for employees with a disability.

See also:

The Employment Equality Acts – A Summary
Exemptions under the Acts
Discrimination under the Acts

Sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace

The Disability Act 2005 Part 5

For many years public bodies have pursued a positive action measure which set a 3% target for the employment of people with disabilities in the public service. The Disability Act Part 5 gives the 3% target legal status and goes further by:

  • allowing each Minister to expand the range of positive actions which public bodies, within his or her area of responsibility, must take for the employment of people with disabilities
  • giving a special role to the National Disability Authority (NDA) in monitoring compliance and ensuring implementation. Ministers may also approve Codes of Practice to assist public bodies.

Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment 2012

The code was produced by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law reform in 2012 and seeks to promote the development and implementation of policies and procedures which establish working environments free of sexual harassment and harassment and in which the dignity of everyone is respected. The provisions of the code are admissible in evidence and if relevant may be taken into account in any criminal or other proceedings before a court.

Section 42 of the IHREC Act 2014

Section 42 of the IHREC Act has established a positive duty on public sector bodies to:

  • eliminate discrimination
  • promote equality of opportunity and treatment
  • protect human rights

This means that all public bodies will have regard to human rights and equality when exercising their functions, when providing services and in the way they deal with their employees.

For more information on each of these legal obligations, see:

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 – A Summary

The Disability Act 2005

The Public Sector Duty

Please note that these factsheets are for information only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such.