Equal opportunities in the labor market are not a given for everyone. Research shows that labor market discrimination, both conscious and unconscious, occurs structurally. The government has long intended to do something about this. An important part of the proposed measures is the Act on Monitoring Equal Opportunities in Weaving and Selection. This act, in addition to already existing equal treatment legislation, aims to prevent discrimination in the labor market, giving everyone an equal chance in finding (and keeping) a job.
On March 14, 2023, the House of Representatives agreed to the act. The act is currently before the Senate (Eerste Kamer).
WHAT EXACTLY DOES THE BILL ENTAIL?
The principle of equal treatment is established in several articles of Dutch law, including in Article 1 of the Constitution (Grondwet) and in equal treatment laws. People who experience discrimination can contact the Human Rights Board, the National Ombudsman, and ultimately the civil courts to try to obtain a ruling in their favor. In addition, the act seeks to promote equal opportunities for all during job recruitment and asks employers and intermediaries to draw up a procedure for this purpose that prevents discrimination.
WHAT DOES THE PROCEDURE ENTAIL?
The proposal sees the introduction of an obligation for employers and intermediaries to have a procedure which describes a working method aimed at preventing discrimination in the process of recruitment and selection. This forces employers to think actively about labor market discrimination. The act sets a number of conditions for the working method. The working method must show that the recruitment and selection procedure: (i) is based on job requirements relevant to the position, (ii) is transparent and verifiable, and (iii) is systematically designed.
Furthermore, the employer must inform employees who are substantively involved in the recruitment and selection process about the risks of labor market discrimination and the measures aimed at prevention.
Employers with 25 or more employees are required to document and regularly review their working method in writing.
DUTY TO DISCLOSE AND REPORT
Employers are responsible for the recruitment process, even if they outsource this (in part) to external parties. It is their responsibility to ensure that these parties adopt practices that prevent discrimination. In addition, employers must ensure that automated systems they use do not cause labor market discrimination.
A reporting requirement is also established for intermediaries in case of discriminatory requests from employers. They must have a procedure to deal with them. If the request still leads to (suspected) labor market discrimination even after following the procedure, the intermediaries must report this to the Dutch Labor Inspectorate (Arbeidsinspectie).
SUPERVISION AND ENFORCEMENT
The Dutch Labor Inspectorate will monitor compliance with this new act when it comes into effect. If deficiencies are found, employers and intermediaries will initially be given the opportunity to rectify this before action is taken. If compliance is still not met after that, an administrative fine may be imposed.
The exact effective date of the act is not yet known, but it is expected to be in mid-2024. We will of course keep you informed of developments.