Companies fear serious consequences of new EU equal treatment law

The personnel departments of German companies and administrative bodies are still not well prepared for the entry into force of the general equal treatment law (AGG), the former anti-discrimination law, which took effect on August 18th. This is the finding of a joint survey by LexisNexis Germany and the “World Of Staff” personnel consulting agency which was carried out among 100 companies. In particular small and medium-sized entities expect to be faced with serious consequences.

“Even though the new law’s entry into force was postponed by more than two weeks, there is still a strong demand for explanation”, says Kai Thiele, managing director of the Munich based “World Of Staff” personnel consulting agency. His conclusion: “Many companies still have not done their homework.” 70 percent of companies surveyed still feel a strong need for information and want to seek comprehensive legal advice. According to labour market experts, not taking appropriate measures may turn out to be very expensive in future: “In the medium-term Germany may awake to US-American conditions”, cautions Georg Mikes, director of the labour law department and European Counsel with the Jones Day international business office in Frankfurt: “We expect a rising number of labour dispute complaints, claims for damages and compensation for personal suffering.”

Thus, in order to avoid complaints right from the start, not only internal and external advertisement of vacancies has to be revised and adapted to the new requirements, but also plant and collective wage agreements as well as all work processes.

Furthermore, two thirds of all companies from the service sector questioned are not aware of the fact that they also have to protect their employees from discrimination by third parties such as customers.

“In order for employers to take preventive measures it is indispensable to model all processes and guidelines in the company on principles which are free from any discrimination. This is all the more important given the fact that there is no transition periods for the implementation of the new law”, says Dr. Martin Kolmhuber, specialist in labour law.

“The new equal treatment law” brochure by LexisNexis, which is subject to a charge, provides answers to practical questions concerning the fields of advertisement of vacancies, payment, redeployment and mobbing. It can be ordered online from LexisNexis. GERMAN