Five proposals to counter discrimination on the labour market

1 March 2019

Five proposals to counter discrimination on the labour market

Labour market discrimination is a stubborn problem. Last year research conducted by the Dutch TV programme Radar showed that half of the employment agencies in the Netherlands were prepared, if asked, to discriminate on the basis of national origin or ethnicity. If the firm making the request stated that they wanted “no Turks or Moroccans” - two of the major ethnic minorities in the Netherlands - their wishes were complied with without further ado. A scandalous practice which the SP wants to see put to an end, this being March 1st, the United Nations Zero Discrimination Day. Zero Discrimination Day has been introduced by the UN to draw attention to and counter discrimination on a global level on the basis of origin, religion, gender etc.

Commenting on the issue, SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk said: ‘Discrimination must be ended, root and branch. It's incredibly frustrating for motivated people when, on the basis of their origins, they are rejected for a reason which is totally irrelevant. Firms which discriminate must suffer as a result, but under the existing policy this isn't happening. The Secretary of State for Employment and Social Affairs, Tamara van Ark, is much too easy-going. Because of this we have made five proposals to put an end to discrimination on the labour market.

1. Firms which discriminate will face fines

Companies guilty of discrimination will be fined, including if this occurs during recruitment and selection. It is in the appointment of personnel that a great deal of discrimination occurs, and yet as things stand the Inspectorate cannot intervene in this phase. Under our proposal firms discriminating will face fines whenever the discrimination occurs. This goes also in the case of students' internships.

2. An obligatory licensing system for employment agencies

Employment agencies are classed as falling under the 'free sector', and therefore no licence or permit is needed in order to establish such an agency. As a result, rules are often flouted without any sanction being imposed. Introducing an obligatory licensing system would enable the Labour Inspectorate to intervene in the event of the rules being broken. A licence could be withdrawn, for example in cases of discrimination.

3. More capacity for the Labour Inspectorate

The Labour Inspectorate has struggled for years with a chronic shortage of capacity. Labour market abuses are hardly addressed, simply because of a lack of surveillance. The SP would invest €50 million in the Inspectorate, equal to 500 additional full time employees, as well as setting up a special team to attack labour market discrimination.

4. A black list of firms which discriminate.

Alongside fines, naming and shaming is an effective means of tackling discrimination. No firm is helped by a bad reputation. Companies guilty of discrimination would be named and shamed on a website open to the public.

5. Deployment of 'mystery guests' to sniff out discrimination

'Mystery guests' – people who pay undeclared visits to firms suspected of discrimination – should form a structural section of the Labour Inspectorate. This would enable firms to be caught red-handed. These 'mystery guests' would not only concern themselves with job applications, but also with requests for internships. The Labour Inspectorate would be given additional resources for this purpose.

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