Employment directive

Based on Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, the European Directive on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation was adopted in November 2000.

The Directive prohibits any discrimination, be it direct or indirect, in the field of employment, vocational training, pay and working conditions and membership in organizations of workers or employers on several grounds, including disability.

European Union Member States were required to adopt national laws to ensure concordance with the Directive by December 2006. Unfortunately, the directive is still far from having been implemented at level-playing field in all countries. This legislation being quite a useful and strong instrument, the priority is still at national level to make sure that it is implemented and used by persons with disabilities who have been discriminated against.

The European Commission has the right to take any Member State that fails to adopt such laws or transpose them incorrectly to the European Court of Justice. The Court is also responsible for a uniform interpretation of the directive and has already pronounced a judgement in relation to this piece of legislation. EDF has produced a document regarding the interpretation of the European Court of Justice judgement.

Among the substantive provisions of the Directive, an article on reasonable accommodation is of crucial importance to persons with disabilities. As defined by Article 2 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, reasonable accommodation means that the employer must take measures to adapt to working place to an employee with disabilities, such as removing physical barriers by installing ramps, facilitating access of visually impaired employees to information technologies, or altering working times to accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities. Failure to provide reasonable accommodation constitutes discrimination for the purpose of the Directive.

The Directive applies to all natural and legal persons in the European Union, regardless of whether they are nationals of Member States, and to both public and private employers (whatever be the size of the company or the number of employees).

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