[Ireland] Human rights commission seeks end of discrimination against carers

[Ireland] Human rights commission seeks end of discrimination against carers
12 Jan 2022

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission says women and people providing care for older relatives are over-represented among employees having their working hours reduced, The Irish Times reports.

Discrimination against people - primarily women - with caring responsibilities must be explicitly prohibited, while greater protections are needed for transgender people, poor people and people with criminal convictions facing prejudice, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Ihrec) said on January 10.

In a wide-ranging submission to the Department of Children and Equality, Ihrec reportedly said legal aid should be available to people taking equality cases to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), domestic workers must be protected from discrimination and that the medicalised definition of the disability equality law does not comply with international human rights obligations.

In June 2020, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman announced a review of equality legislation; the Equal Status Acts and the Employment Equality Acts (1998 to 2020).

Ihrec said these Acts need updating because “Ireland is a more diverse multi-ethnic and multinational society” than it was when they were introduced.

According to Ihrec, the “family status” ground - one of nine on which a person may argue they face discrimination - “does not go far enough to capture and protect the full range of caring responsibilities… in modern Irish society.”

Women are far more likely to face discrimination as a result of care responsibilities than men, Ihrec said, adding that the family status ground “should be amended to capture and protect the full range of caring responsibilities”.

“Many people may now care for older relatives or individuals who do not live under the same roof as them… Care work often must be juggled with employment responsibilities.

“Women are over-represented among employees availing of reduced hours... deficiencies in the protection offered by the Acts have a particular impact on women and serve to perpetuate gender inequality in the labour market,” it noted.

The areas of “gender, gender identity and gender expression are evolving”, the commission said.

While still “seeking to identify the best approach to take to the reform of the gender ground in equality legislation”, it argues the Acts should be amended “to explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender, non-binary and intersex people”.

Helpline

The commission’s helpline consistently receives calls from people experiencing discrimination because of their disadvantaged socioeconomic status, in accessing education and employment and services such as insurance, banking and recreation.

However, “none of these complaints was actionable as socioeconomic status is not a protected ground”, it said. “Introduction of this ground would constitute a crucial shift in the equality landscape in Ireland.”

Regarding disability, the commission notes the approach in legislation is “medical” and “fails to recognise the existence of [social] barriers that hinder the full participation of disabled people in society on an equal basis with others”.

This is out of step with the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities, ratified by Ireland in March 2018.

The definition must “be brought into compliance with the human rights model enshrined in the UNCRPD, based on close consultations with, and the active involvement of, disabled people and their representative organisations”.

There was particular criticism of the exclusion of domestic workers from the protections of employment equality legislation, the commission says this “has a disproportionate effect on women, particularly migrant women who make up the majority of domestic workers”.

It calls for regulation of non-disclosure, or confidentiality agreements in WRC settlements, saying some complainants may be unaware that they are not obliged to agree to them. It notes the view of some Irish solicitors that these are used to “cover-up” abuse.


Source: The Irish Times

(Quotes via original reporting)

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission says women and people providing care for older relatives are over-represented among employees having their working hours reduced, The Irish Times reports.

Discrimination against people - primarily women - with caring responsibilities must be explicitly prohibited, while greater protections are needed for transgender people, poor people and people with criminal convictions facing prejudice, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Ihrec) said on January 10.

In a wide-ranging submission to the Department of Children and Equality, Ihrec reportedly said legal aid should be available to people taking equality cases to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), domestic workers must be protected from discrimination and that the medicalised definition of the disability equality law does not comply with international human rights obligations.

In June 2020, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman announced a review of equality legislation; the Equal Status Acts and the Employment Equality Acts (1998 to 2020).

Ihrec said these Acts need updating because “Ireland is a more diverse multi-ethnic and multinational society” than it was when they were introduced.

According to Ihrec, the “family status” ground - one of nine on which a person may argue they face discrimination - “does not go far enough to capture and protect the full range of caring responsibilities… in modern Irish society.”

Women are far more likely to face discrimination as a result of care responsibilities than men, Ihrec said, adding that the family status ground “should be amended to capture and protect the full range of caring responsibilities”.

“Many people may now care for older relatives or individuals who do not live under the same roof as them… Care work often must be juggled with employment responsibilities.

“Women are over-represented among employees availing of reduced hours... deficiencies in the protection offered by the Acts have a particular impact on women and serve to perpetuate gender inequality in the labour market,” it noted.

The areas of “gender, gender identity and gender expression are evolving”, the commission said.

While still “seeking to identify the best approach to take to the reform of the gender ground in equality legislation”, it argues the Acts should be amended “to explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender, non-binary and intersex people”.

Helpline

The commission’s helpline consistently receives calls from people experiencing discrimination because of their disadvantaged socioeconomic status, in accessing education and employment and services such as insurance, banking and recreation.

However, “none of these complaints was actionable as socioeconomic status is not a protected ground”, it said. “Introduction of this ground would constitute a crucial shift in the equality landscape in Ireland.”

Regarding disability, the commission notes the approach in legislation is “medical” and “fails to recognise the existence of [social] barriers that hinder the full participation of disabled people in society on an equal basis with others”.

This is out of step with the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities, ratified by Ireland in March 2018.

The definition must “be brought into compliance with the human rights model enshrined in the UNCRPD, based on close consultations with, and the active involvement of, disabled people and their representative organisations”.

There was particular criticism of the exclusion of domestic workers from the protections of employment equality legislation, the commission says this “has a disproportionate effect on women, particularly migrant women who make up the majority of domestic workers”.

It calls for regulation of non-disclosure, or confidentiality agreements in WRC settlements, saying some complainants may be unaware that they are not obliged to agree to them. It notes the view of some Irish solicitors that these are used to “cover-up” abuse.


Source: The Irish Times

(Quotes via original reporting)

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