Bill to promote equal opportunities in recruitment and selection in the House of Representatives

08 Sep 2020

Aimée Peterse, Ilse Baijens

At the beginning of July 2020, on the proposal of the State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment Van Ark, the Council of Ministers agreed to the abovementioned bill. In a letter dated 6 July 2020, the State Secretary informed the House of Representatives about the content and status of the bill. The bill is part of the Action Plan on Employment Market Discrimination 2018-2021. Click here to read more about the progress of this Action Plan.

Reason and purpose of the bill

The bill "Monitoring equal opportunities in recruitment and selection" aims to promote equal opportunities and fair treatment in the labour market. Job candidates experience discrimination based on age, migration background, pregnancy and sexual orientation, among other things. This bill aims to ensure that employer’s recruitment and selection procedures offer equal opportunities to applicants and prevent prohibited discrimination. As the State Secretary points out in his letter. The current Covid-19 crisis only increases the importance of attention to labour market discrimination, as many people have become unemployed and are looking for new jobs. The bill imposes an obligation on employers to implement policies to combat discrimination in the hiring and selection process. Small companies (employers with less than 10 employees) may suffice with a verbal explanation of their approach. Larger companies must record this policy in writing.

Enforcement by the SZW Inspectorate

Under the bill, the ‘Inspectorate SZW’ (the labour inspectorate branch of the Ministry of Social Afairs and Employment) will eventually be given the power to monitor compliance with this obligation. The Inspectorate SZW will also be given the power to impose a fine on employers in the event of non-compliance. This fine will only be imposed after employers have been given an additional chance to comply with the legal requirements. The amount of the fines is not yet known.

In order to increase knowledge and awareness of labour market discrimination among employers and to support them in drawing up appropriate equal opportunity policies, a digital handbook is currently being drafted for employers - and in particular for small to medium-sized enterprises.

Progress of legislative proposal

The bill was the subject of an internet consultation at the end of 2019. Subsequently, the Council of Ministers agreed to the bill, after which it was forwarded to the Council of State for its opinion. The legislative text and the advice of the Council of State are expected to be submitted to the Lower House of Parliament this autumn (2020). Upon submission, the legislative text will be made public. The House of Representatives will then vote on the bill, after which the Senate will debate it.

Tabel werving en selectie ENG.JPG

What can you meanwhile do as an employer?

Under the Working Conditions Act, employers are already legally obliged to take steps to prevent labour discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace falls within the category of psychosocial impact, which employers must limit or prevent as much as possible. Situations involving direct or indirect distinction in the employment relationship, including sexual harassment, aggression and violence, bullying and work pressure, can cause stress among employees. Employers are obliged to implement a policy to prevent or limit this psychosocial impact. This policy must be part of the Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E). In the RI&E, employers are to describe situations in which their employees may face discrimination and the measures to be taken against this.

We will, of course, keep you informed of developments regarding the bill.

More questions? Please contact us.