The Discrimination Act
The Discrimination Act went into effect on 1 January 2009. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that human rights are respected in the labour market, workplace and elsewhere in the society. The Equality Ombudsman is to ensure compliance with the Discrimination Act and the Parental Leave Act.
Somewhat simplified, the Discrimination Act consists of two parts: it prohibits discrimination and requires employers to actively prevent discrimination. The prohibition of discrimination is intended to protect individuals, whereas the purpose of the prevention requirement is to change structures in an organisation that may lead to discrimination of someone.
Prohibition of Discrimination
The Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other beliefs, disability, sexual orientation or age. The act applies in essentially all areas of society, with the exception of age, where the prohibition is limited to education and the labour market in a general sense. Employers and education providers, as well as public authorities and organisations that provide military training, such as compulsory national service and civilian service, are also required to investigate and take necessary measures against harassment or sexual harassment.
The Discrimination Act does not regulate in detail which measures must be taken to prevent discrimination in the workplace. However, it clearly expresses which areas the active measures shall target: recruitments, working conditions and payments. Employer with 25 or more employees must establish a written plan for the preventive gender equality work in the indicated areas. The plan must be revised every three years.
The Discrimination Act also asserts that education providers must take measures to promote equal treatment of any child, pupil or student who is participating in or applying for their activities, regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion or other beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. They must also prevent harassment and sexual harassment within the framework of the education provided. Education providers are; furthermore, required to draw up a plan for the work to ensure equal treatment.