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Seminar - Tackling discrimination and ensuring protection for carers in Europe

September 17th 2018

Strengthening links between equality bodies and labour inspectorates

On 17-18 October, the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet) and the European Commission co-organised a one-and-a-half-day seminar on supporting persons experiencing discriminatory dismissal, in cooperation with stakeholders such as labour inspectorates.

What is dismissal protection ?

Unfair dismissal is when an employer terminates an employee’s employment for reasons that are not fair in law or in a way that is unfair, unjust or unreasonable. These reasons can be related to pregnancy, maternity and family leave. Dismissal protection are rules ensuring that employees keep their job and hence their means of livelihood, in a framework that is judged to be socially and economically fair and justifiable.

Background information

Following consultation of Equinet members in 2016, and in the context of the Work-Life Balance Initiative adopted by the Commission on 26 April 2017, the European Commission identified as one of the actions to improve the design and gender balanced take-up of family related leaves and flexible working arrangements. One of the issues identified is pregnancy and parenthood related discrimination on the labour market with a specific focus on effective dismissal protection, including the periods surrounding pregnancy and maternity/family leave. Some reports show that workers still face unfavorable treatment in their workplace and report a lack of information and support in many Member States.

The seminar organized by Equinet in close cooperation with the European Commission, drew on the needs and experiences of national equality bodies in order to better support persons experiencing discriminatory dismissal in cooperation with stakeholders such as labour inspectorates. The seminar was an opportunity to exchange experiences and good practices among equality bodies and other stakeholders on the labour market. The seminar sought to consider intersectionality in the lived experience of discrimination.

Objectives of the seminar

The seminar aimed for participants to:

  • Familiarize themselves with a range of issues arising in the context of dismissals and discrimination in access to statutory rights and challenges in tackling these;
  • Exchange good practices between equality bodies and labour inspectorates;
  • Exchange on strategies for handling discrimination and dismissal in the workplace;
  • Strengthen networking and cooperation between Equinet and SLIC and their members where it already exists and initiation of possible new cooperation.




Seminar: Dismissal Protection, Brussels 17-18 October 2018


Opening and welcome

Chair: Fabien Luetz, European Commission

  • Marie-Hélène Boulanger – Head of Unit, DG Justice and Consumers, European Commission
  • Kalliopi Lykovardi – Board Member, Equinet & Deputy Ombudsman for Equal Treatment, Greek Ombudsman

Keynote on Current Gaps and Case Work on Dismissal Protection

  • Franks van Hoof and Raphaële Xenidis, European Equality Law Network

Access to the labour market for carers: Discrimination in job announcements and interview questions

Chair: Moana Genevey, Equinet

  • Nathalie Schlenzka - German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency
  • Didier Henrard - Belgian Labour Inspectorate
  • Cinzia Sechi - European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and Loredana Taddei – Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), Italy

Addressing pregnancy discrimination

Chair: Greet Vermeylen, European Commission

  • Welcome address: Erika Koller - Rapporteur on Work-Life Balance for Economic & Social Committee

Surveys and cases on pregnancy discrimination

  • Hildegard Van Hove - Belgian Institute on Equality between Women and Men
  • Bjarke Oxlunds - Danish Institute of Human Rights
  • Katie Oldfield – IFF Research, Great Britain

Unfair dismissals and dismissal protection: case studies

Chair: Tamás Kádár, Equinet

  • Annelies Cardon - Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men

Case Study 1: Pregnancy
Case Study 2: Parental Leave
Case Study 3: Carers Leave

Cooperating at national level: Equality Bodies and Labour Inspectorates

Chair: Greet Vermeylen, European Commission

  • Kalliopi Lykovardi - Greek Ombudsman
  • Sotiris Charmantas - Greek Labour Inspectorate
  • Margarida Vieira - CITE Portugal
  • Beáta Babačová - Slovak Centre for Human Rights

Concluding Session

  • Irena Moovoza - Director of Equality, DG Justice and Consumers, European Commission
  • Anne Gaspard - Executive Director, Equinet

For more information, please contact Moana Genevey (Policy Officer):