That it be an instruction to the Committee on the Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill, 1975, that it has power to make provision in the Bill in relation to—
(i) the establishment of an Employment Equality Agency, having functions in relation to the said Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill, 1975, and the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974.
(ii) compulsory re-instatement or compulsory re-engagement in relation to cases of retaliatory dismissal under the said Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill, 1975, and the said Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, and
(iii) any other matters incidental
The purpose of the motion is to permit the moving of amendments that would make provision in the Bill in relation to the establishment of an Employment Equality Agency having functions in relation to the Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill, 1975, and also having functions in relation to the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974. The amendments will also refer to the compulsory re-instatement and compulsory re-engagement in relation to cases of retaliatory dismissal under the Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill, 1975, and the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974.
It is necessary to move this motion because the amendments are additional and depart somewhat from the provisions of the Bill as originally before the House. The Employment Equality Agency will have both an investigative and overseeing role. First, it will have the function in the public interest of identifying and seeking out areas of discrimination where they exist. It will also have an enforcing function to ensure that the terms of the legislation apply in practice.
To achieve this the agency will carry out formal investigations and it will have power in connection with these investigations to require the production of information. The agency will then either recommend changes in practices or issue nondiscriminatory notices requiring those who are infringing the provisions of either of the Acts to cease such unlawful practices. Of course, if there is persistent discrimination the agency may seek an injunction from the High Court to ensure that the person in breach of the law desists.
The agency will have the sole right to institute proceedings in cases of discriminatory advertisements. Where advertisements in their format or language break the provisions of the legislation the agency can institute proceedings. The agency will also be able to assist individuals in the preparation and presentation of their cases where special circumstances justify it.
I hope the agency will have an important role as educator in generally promoting equality of opportunity. It will be a source of information about legislation and about the remedies available to those who suffer, or feel they suffer, discrimination and it will conduct research into the areas in which the law applies as well. Guidelines and codes of good practice in the light of investigations carried out by the agency will be published.
During the debate on this Bill Deputies accepted the need for such an educative central organising agency and the purpose of this motion is to meet the need expressed in this House and elsewhere. The agency will consist of a chairman and ten ordinary members to be appointed by me. Of the ordinary members two will be workers' members, two employers' members and of the remaining six members three will be representative of women's organisations. The staff of the agency will be civil servants provided from the offices of the Department of Labour.
A similar agency, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, was established in the United States in 1972. In Britain the Equal Opportunities Commission of 1975 carries out similar functions and in Northern Ireland the Equal Opportunities Commission came into power in 1976.
I would hope the agency will monitor progress towards the elimination of discrimination in employment under the Equal Pay Act and, based on this legislation, make recommendations to the Government of the day for any amendments that may be considered necessary. The agency will, of course, be independent of the Government in its work.
Another reason for moving this motion is that the remedies for retaliatory dismissal for those pursuing claims on equal treatment under this legislation or for equal pay under the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, are being brought into line with the remedies under the unfair dismissals legislation. The Bill, as originally put before the House, provided for either monetary compensation or that reinstatement may be recommended. It is now proposed that the remedy will also be available that one may order re-instatement or order re-engagement if the Labour Court findings support these remedies.
I referred to these amendments on the Second Stage of the Bill in December, 1976, but it is necessary, in accordance with Standing Orders, to move this motion to give an instruction to the committee empowering it to make these amendments.