Minister Launches Ambitious Plan of EA – Authority to Develop Enforceable Codes of PracticeMinister Launches Ambitious Plan of EA – Authority to Develop Enforceable Codes of Practice

The Equality Authority was set up. under the Employment Equality Act 1998. It was established on 18th October 1999. The Equality Authority is unique in Europe in terms of the range and extent of its role. The Authority consists of a Chair and ~ 2 members, male and female, with 2 employer nominees and 2 employee nominees. The other members represent consumer, social affairs, equality, law, fmance and provision of good and services backgrounds.

The Legislation

The Employment Equality Act 1998 prohibits discrimination on 9 grounds:

  1. Gender
  2. Marital status
  3. Family status
  4. Race
  5. Membership of the Traveller community
  6. Disability
  7. Sexual Orientation
  8. Religion
  9. Age

The Act applies to employers, collective agreements, advertising, employment agencies, vocational training, trades unions and professional associations. The Employment Equality Act 1998 contains specific new provisions governing equal pay for work of equal value and the insertion of a standard equality clause in employment contracts. The Act defines and prohibits. indirect discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. For the first time, the Act enables Postive Action to address inequalities on grounds of gender, disability and membership of the Traveller community. For the first time also, the Defence Forces are covered by the legislation. Another key provision is that employers are vicariously liable for harassment and sexual harassment of their employees in an employment context, even if this is outside the actual place of employment.

What the Authority will do:

The functions of the Authority have developmental and enforcement aspects:

1. work towards elimination of discrimination
2.promote equality of opportunity
3.provide information to the public
4.keep the legislation under review

Briefly, the Equality Authority will work for the elimination of discrimination by promoting and defending the rights established, providing free information/advice, and working in partnership with the 4 pillars, equality groups and people availing of its services. To promote equality of opportunity, the Authority will develop enforceable Codes of Practice in relation to recruitment, promotion, conditions of employment, sexual harrassment and harrassment, and when the Equal Status legislation is enacted, access to goods and services (e.g. pubs and clubs). The Authority will conduct Equality Reviews of large organisations and the Public and State Sector, and will draw up action plans on the basis of those reviews. In providing information to the public, the Authority will adopt an accessible and proactive strategy involving consultations and briefings with the media, regional outreach, publications in a range of formats, and interactive internet facilities.