Research has found that around 80% of Travellers are unemployed. One issue that this figure could indicate is that there is workplace discrimination against the Travelling Community in Ireland.
It’s important for employers to remember that workplace discrimination in Ireland against Travellers is specifically prohibited under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015.
The employment equality legislation prohibits employers from treating certain categories of people differently when it comes to issues like access to employment, promotion opportunities or conditions of employment.
The legislation protects nine categories of person against employment-related discrimination including members of the Travelling Community. The financial and reputational risks for breaching this employment equality legislation can be severe.
This is the main reason why discrimination against Travellers in Ireland is an employment law risk for employers to carefully guard against.
Discrimination in practice
Many employers wonder what discrimination against Travellers in the workplace looks like in practice? The aim of the employment equality legislation is to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to gain access to employment, skills training and promotion chances.
You should ensure that employment-related decisions are based on an employee’s or applicant’s capacity to do the job. You should document all these decisions and ensure that there is objective evidence supporting a decision to recruit or promote to avoid allegations of discrimination. This will be a defence to an allegation that a decision was related to the person’s background or characteristics.
Diversity and inclusion
There is a range of reasons behind why Travellers are discriminated against. Minority groups can be marginalised from society and the workplace if positive action isn’t taken to include them.
From an employer’s perspective, Irish Travellers discrimination can be avoided by developing positive action measures like developing a diversity and inclusion programme.
Instead of treating the problem of Traveller discrimination, you could look at the benefits of an inclusion and diversity policy.
An inclusive workplace is one that has fair policies and practices in place that allow staff from diverse backgrounds to work together.
Diversity as a policy aims to harness the benefit of having a wider range of perspectives involved in decision-making. This can increase the attractiveness of the business as a place to work and as a commercial organisation looking for new customers.
Employment equality law provides employees and job applicants from certain backgrounds with strong legal protections against discrimination. Establishing strong workplace policies is the first step toward making sure your workplace is a level playing field.
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