Eu employment law

Eu employment law


Historically, equal opportunities have always played a part at EU level. The Treaty of Rome in 1957 comprised an obligation to equal opportunities by adding a rule of equal pay for men and women. This change was one of the major obligations of the European community to social policy (Lewis, 2006).

The idea of equal opportunities expanded throughout the 1970s and 1980s. According to Meehan (1992) this idea was developed equally as a concept and as being in correlation to the policy fields that have been covered. At the same time Streeck (1996) argued that during the 1980s, the endeavour to progress and complement the public aspect of EU policy was unsuccessful.

As Pierson (2001) presents, by the 1990s factors such as family transformation and employment market had resulted in a sequence of challenges, for instance, financial, economic and demographic. These were highly demanding to the welfare state systems developed by member states.

The end of the 1990s proved that the three correlated fields were to face considerable transformation. Those fields were social policy, equal opportunities and work and family settlement. Rees (1998) guides us to understand that the endeavour to attain equal opportunities developed into noticeable dedication to general thinking of a concern over gender equality in all policy fields. At the same time this notion (of equality) was greatly extended in the Treaty of Amsterdam where “discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation” was included (Waddington, 1999).

In the UK there is firm, effective legislation providing a legal structure that applies equal opportunities in society. Some of the Acts will be listed and discussed further in this essay.

This essay will firstly look at the EU equal opportunities legislation followed by the UK's law. Then move on to discuss on how COCO-Mat's policies are in tune with the law. This will be conducted in view of the fact that the company's outlets are based mainly in the EU countries and recently in the UK. It will be discussed how looking beyond law and company's own initiative helps it to be as successful as it is.


The directives of European employment law are firstly addressed to the EU Member States. These directives are then implemented into the national law of an individual member within a particular time-frame. The consequence of an instruction from the EU is obligatory. However, the means by which the directive is implemented into national law is a matter of preference of the individual EU Member State. (Euro Info Centre, 2006).

II.I. Anti-discrimination

EU legislation is serious about workplace discrimination. The Directive (2000/78/EC) sets up a common structure in occupation and employment. This structure puts emphasis on equal treatment in these areas. It is against discrimination based on sexual orientation, disability, age, religion and belief.

The principle meaning of equal treatment stands for the prevention of any indirect or direct discrimination, on any of the areas set out above. To facilitate the assurance of fulfilment of the rules of equal treatment in relation to individuals with disabilities, realistic adjustment should be offered. This suggests that employers must take suitable method in order to allow a disabled person to be able to partake in employment or else undertake training (Schiek, 2002).

II.II. Racial and ethnic discrimination

The directive (2000/43/EC) plays a role of the protector at the EU level; it secures the general rule of anti-discrimination. It also applies the rule of equal treatment between individuals, irrespective of ethnic or racial origin.

The areas covered by the directive include social protection - health care and security, education, social compensations, as well as supply and the right to use services and goods. In addition, it goes further than employment and self-employment: the Directive prohibits any variety of indirect or direct discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or race (Schiek, 2002).

Indirect discrimination could appear as less approving treatment of a group of individuals or the person concerned. Indirect discrimination could also take the form of an unbiased act but the outcome for the person or group of individuals involved will be very likely adverse. It could however be accepted in some circumstances, when ethnic origin or race represents essential professional necessity. However, the topic of nationality is not covered by the Directive.


UK legislation parts of The European Employment Directive are implemented in the UK by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) from 1995, extended in 2005. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 deals with age discrimination and was introduced on 1 October and 1 December 2006. The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulation 2003, and the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulation 2003, Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000) - RRAA and last but not least the Sex Discrimination Act (1975, amended 1986) (

These matters will be discussed further in the essay.


It is understood that it would be appropriate to start this section by presenting the Human Rights Act from 1998.

III.I. The Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act was introduced and implemented on 2nd October 2000. The Act covers sixteen basic human rights. These range from freedom from killing and torture, to every day individual human rights. Furthermore the Act covers essential human rights that state an individual is not to be mistreated due to their political views, religion, race and sex. The exception is when such action could be vindicated without prejudice (

III.II. Disability Discrimination Act (1995, extended 2005) - DDA

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 describes disability as a “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities” The legislation from 2005 progresses this medical description and emphasizes that “the poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion experienced by many disabled people is not the inevitable result of their impairments or medical conditions, but rather stems from attitudinal and environmental barriers”. This is recognized as the “social model” of disability (

For an employer to behave towards a disabled person less constructively than towards a capable person, is considered against the law. Except for when it is possible to entirely justify this action. This rule will evidently apply to employment issues, for instance, training, recruitment, dismissal as well as promotion (McTigue, 2007)

Moreover, biased conduct a work is not accepted in the context of individuals with previous disabilities, such as a mental illness record. Implementation of a new Disability Discrimination Act came into form in 2005. This Act extended the existing terms formulated in the 1995 DDA. Particularly, these individuals with multiple sclerosis, cancer and HIV are now protected by DDA from the instant they are identified with these conditions (Neff, 2006).

With the aim of helping a disabled individual participate on a level playing field with a capable person, companies will have to be obliged to perceive what they could modify in the place of work, in so much as looking at the ways into how the work is being done. In a way that will help to understand how this way might limit or negate effectiveness of the persons with disabilities. Employers should be able to provide some modifications. These modifications should be actioned within financial reason and should take into account the degree of progress that these changes will inable (Neff, 2006).

III.III. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations form (2006)

These set of laws have been established to guarantee age equal opportunity within employment, training and development, promotion, selection, redundancy and retirement customs. The significance of Age Regulations is that it is crucial for employers not to employ, train, develop, promote, select or make redundant when taking into consideration age of an individual (

III.IV. The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003)

Sexual Orientation regulations specify and call attention to the illegal aspect of treating an employee in an uninformative manner due to their sexual orientation as well as alleged sexual orientation. It would also be illegal to treat an individual unfavourably for the reason of one's association with a person of a certain sexual orientation (

III.V. The Employment Equality (Religious Orientation) Regulations (2003)

Very similarly to Sexual Orientation Regulations, it would be illegitimate to act unfavourably towards employees for the reason that they pursue or not, a certain religion, philosophical or religious belief (

III.VI. Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000) - RRAA

The RRAA was put into practice in April 2001 and altered the Race Relations Act from 1976. The altered act treats equal opportunity extra sincerely from the law point of view from any other previous Equal Opportunities legislation (

Organisations are obliged to guarantee that racial fairness is an essential fraction of thought management and strategic development. Organisations must make certain that all arrangements and measures meet the legislation terms. Furthermore it must be assured that change will be prompted where required (

III.VII. Sex Discrimination Act (1975, amended 1986)

The Sex Discrimination Act entails that companies do not differentiate, either indirectly or directly between men and women, unmarried or married individuals in employment or else any other means in their dealings with workers.

The Sex Discrimination Act was broadened in 1999. The most important change was to make it against the law to discriminate against member of staff who is intending to, undergoing or has gone through, gender reassignment (


UK successful companies have policies of equality in employment in place. They understand and are committed to employ greatly motivated employees and are willing to make high quality services available. This is the case in both in commerce and societal sectors as well as in education. They also recognise the benefits linked with creating a more varied workforce. The companies appreciate and are anxious for the abilities and dedication of disabled employees as much as appreciating the significance, talent and knowledge of all employees that could be brought to the workplace (Konrad & Linnehan, 1995).

Companies state that persons will be selected, educated and promoted appropriately to their correlated knowledge and skills. All employees and those applying for jobs shall be dealt with in the same manner despite of their nationality, colour, race, marital and parental status, sex, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and political views (Konrad & Linnehan, 1995).

Human Resources (HR) is therefore largely responsible for execution, screening and formulation of the policies in place. HR is accountable for giving advice to members of staff on issues of equal opportunities in employment, in addition to supplying managers with training and assistance on the equal opportunities procedures (Buckley, 2001).


COCO-Mat is a Greek company that was established in Athens in 1989. The company produces bed mattresses and bedding products having 34 outlets in Greece, Europe (recently in the UK) and China.They provide work for 202 employees (COCO-MAT - Overview-2008.pdf)

COCO-Mat's Human Resources Policy is to:

- “Hire employees from sensitive social groups

- Provide all necessary facilities to these people.

- Communicate directly with all employees. Act as a family.

- Feel proud of your achievements

- Promote your philosophy”(COCO-MAT - HR Policies-2008.doc)

COCO-Mat recognizes differences in individual personality and does not follow strict principles when recruiting new workforce. “Characteristics, such as behaviour, personality, professionalism, career orientation, commitment, loyalty and ecological sensitivity are considered as the most crucial criteria for selection, in combination with candidate's background, specific knowledge, professional training and working experience.”

The company's policy is to provide equal opportunities for every employee.

COCO-Mat has accomplished an outstanding uniqueness: about 70% of COCO-Mat's workers are immigrants from countries such as Turkey and the former Soviet Union. This statement reveals the company's attention to special social groups. This attention is as much uttered by recruiting individuals from families with several children, “special skilled” people as well as those who experienced ethnic, religious or racial discrimination. COCO-Mat is proud of employing people within 13 different nationalities and 9 religions (COCO-MAT Report.pdf)

The COCO-Mat's undertakings and ideals are in absolute harmony with its employees' approach, because it results from the arrangement of everybody's input. In this instance it is ideas of leadership and employees. In the course of this action the company's policy is to allow its employees to participate in decision making and communication of its objectives.

The company's management relationship with all employees remains close, and an enduring contact is maintained (COCO-MAT Report.pdf)

Furthermore, the company gives its employees the chance to accomplish their professional ambitions. The decisive factor for career development for all employees should be based on employees “general performance in the company, measured by personal performance indicators, teamwork, initiation of development projects and level of knowledge.” (COCO-MAT Report.pdf)

In addition COCO-Mat believes that additional education and permanent training of its workforce are fundamental to attain competitive advantage as well as nourishing the “top professional value of its people.”Therefore the HRmakes constant effort tothink of innovative ways to educate COCO-Mat's employees. HR creates diverse didactic strategies for different departments, depending on specific needs. They have done so in partnership with a creative team and are having magnificent results in reinforcing employees attention.

One of the long term investments is to encourage employees to learn English. COCO-Mat does do by providing additional pay. The company's greatest investment is their employees. COCO-Mat is not attracted by employing for a restricted period, the management is looking to employ permanently. They invest in their people by providing them permanent training and education. The company is therefore making sure that their workforce will be ready to face potential demand in this so very competitive field. Mutually, employees consider the company as an educational establishment for the reason that COCO-Mat has got a constant need for education (COCO-MAT Report.pdf).


This essay presented the EU equal opportunities legislation going into more details with respect to Great Britain's law in this matter. Several Acts have been shown that are “responsible” for equal treatment in the workplace. It has been shown that the policies of COCO-Mat do not just exist in order to follow the regulations. COCO-Mat goes further by priding themselves on actively encouraging equal opportunities. They see equal opportunities as a positive driving force for success. In doing so, they go over and above the law, integrating an equal opportunity ethic into the corporate culture.

The company's constant endeavour to motivate its employees is very much consistent with the creation of its image “everyone for everyone” (COCO-MAT Report.pdf). COCO-Mat continuously creates prospects of progress, ideal conditions of work, as well as considering flexibility in the hours of work (especially for those who are “special skilled”, taking into consideration their abilities). Continual additional education and training “are encouraged along with the cultivation of a positive view on the part of the employees for the social aspect of their work” (COCO-MAT Report.pdf).

This attention to detail in regard to looking after its workforce is the reason behind their growing success in promoting equal opportunities.

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