Disability Discrimination Consultation Jersey Chamber of Commerce – Official Response

Tuesday 14 November 10:00

The Jersey Chamber of Commerce is fully supportive of Jersey having a full scope of disability legislative measures in place, to ensure that everyone in the island has fair and full access to employment and social activities.

With specific reference to the Disability Discrimination Consultation, we would like to make the following comments and observations with regards the legislation as it is currently drafted.
 
The definition of disability used within this legislation is based on a social, not medical model. The question of proof of disability could therefore be a subjective and difficult point to prove, as it is unclear at this stage which professional opinions would be necessary in order to correctly assess disability. 
 
Within the UK definition of disability, ‘long-term’ is defined as 12 months. There is no timeframe laid out in the Jersey legislation. We suggest it would be sensible to include a timescale that clearly defines what the States of Jersey consider is long-term.
 
In order for companies to thoroughly examine the full extent of necessary adjustment in the workplace, it is highly likely that professional opinions will be sought. For some small and medium sized organisations and charities, the cost of this assessment could be difficult to absorb. The Jersey Chamber of Commerce would suggest that the States of Jersey has a duty of care to help businesses and organisations carry out this type of assessment. Therefore, in the same way that the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS) provides advice and templates on issues such as disciplinary matters, so too should the States provide procedures and assessment templates and guide notes, as to what is considered ‘reasonable adjustment’. 
 
The period of two years (from the legislation being introduced), has been proposed as the timescale in which companies have, in order to be legislation ready. If free help, as outlined above is available via a multi-agency approach, involving experts from the Planning and Building Control Departments along with Health & Social Services, then a period of two years may be a sufficient timescale. 
The following statements refer to the results of the Disability Discrimination Legislation Survey undertaken by Jersey Chamber of Commerce in order to provide a response that is representative of our members. The survey included questions based on the areas we have been asked to respond on and was circulated to all of our member organisations, which represents approximately 27,000 working people in Jersey:
 
• Over 30% of respondents do not agree with the proposed definition of disability.  Some of the comments received were that it was too confusing and may not be understood easily, that it is too wordy and should be more concise, and, very importantly, more clarity is needed on what ‘long-term’ is.  
 
• Over 90% of respondents urge Jersey to pre-define ‘long term’, providing a clear, objective measure.
 
• The exceptions that are listed were generally accepted by respondents.
 
• 68% of respondents do not think there should be further exceptions within the legislation.
 
• Respondents were nearly equally split as to whether a period of 2 years after the introduction of the law to allow businesses to make any changes to the workplace or premises to prevent or remove any barriers and obstacles is the correct amount of time. Comments included: o Clear information, training and support need to be available for businesses to help them adapt positively. o Given budget constraints and planning 5 years may be more appropriate. o It should not be time prescriptive, but the differing needs and requirements of each individual business considered.
 
The Jersey Chamber of commerce would strongly urge the States of Jersey consider the above points, in order to help businesses and organisations adapt and avoid costly and lengthy tribunals.

 

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