The European Commission package to strengthen equality bodies - a BusinessEurope position paper
- Respect the principle of subsidiarity and national practice: Any involvement of equality bodies in workplace-related matters, whether this is by extending their competences or not, should always respect the autonomy of social partners in line with their national practice as well as the recognised competences of all relevant government agencies, including labour inspectorates, national courts and/or statutory tribunals.
- Foster constructive cooperation: Establishing or strengthening a trust-based relationship between equality bodies and social partners should be a key objective under this package. Where this is appropriate and relevant according to national legislation and/or practice, the involvement of social partners, including through a tripartite governing structure of equality bodies, should therefore be made possible.
- Maintain the independence of equality bodies: The proposals should guarantee that equality bodies can operate independently, effectively and free from external influence.
- Consider more balanced approaches: Simultaneously granting equality bodies binding decision-making, litigation and investigative powers not only puts their entire mandate but also their independent nature into question. Introducing a structural “firewall” into their internal structure will not be sufficient in ensuring they can make impartial decisions, independent from any external influence.
- Focus on mediation instead of litigation: Any additional competences awarded to equality bodies should keep their role as mediators for out-of-court dispute resolution at the forefront instead of opting for a litigation-oriented approach.