Promotion of equality
According to the Non-Discrimination Act, the authorities, private parties with public administration duties, education providers, early childhood education and care organisers and service providers as well as employers are obliged to promote equality in their activities. The purpose of promoting equality is to prevent discrimination, ensure the de facto equality of all people and remove inequality due to discrimination in the society.
The obligation to promote equality and draw up an equality promotion plan was extended to early childhood education and care organisers as well as service providers in the reform of the Non-Discrimination Act on 1 June 2023.
The promotion of equality means addressing discrimination and preventing it in a systematic and goal-oriented manner with the aim of securing the de facto equality of people. Therefore, promoting equality means actively making sure that everyone can receive the services of authorities, go to school, study and work equally and have an equal growth environment.
The duties of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman include tackling discrimination and promoting equality. You can read more about the duties of the Ombudsman and activities to promote equality here.
Duty of the authorities, education providers, early childhood education and care organisers and service providers as well as employers to promote equality
Authorities, private parties with public administration duties, education providers, early childhood education and care organisers and service providers as well as employers must assess and promote equality in their activities. The obligation to promote equality is laid down in the Non-Discrimination Act, and the content of the obligation has been specified in the preliminary work on the act. In addition to the obligation to promote equality that is constantly taken into account in the activities, the Non-Discrimination Act also provides for the obligation to draw up an equality promotion plan.
Organisations must assess the realisation of equality in their current activities in order to promote it systematically. This may require the authority to hear organisations that present people vulnerable to discrimination and other stakeholders, for example. As for the education provider and the educational institution maintained by it, as well as early childhood education and care facilities, they must reserve an opportunity for the children and students or pupils and their custodians to be heard on the promotion measures. Employers must discuss the promotion of equality and the effectiveness of the measures with the personnel.
The measures to promote equality must be effective, expedient and proportionate, taking into account the operating environment, resources and other circumstances. This means that the operator’s personnel and other resources are taken into account in the promotion measures: more can be expected of larger operators.
The efficiency required of the promotion measures means, among other things, that the organisations must set concrete goals based on an assessment and their realisation must be monitored regularly.
- The authorities must, in their respective sectors, evaluate the realisation of equality for instance in their preparatory work, decision-making, administrative practices, performance management and performance agreements, as well as strategic planning and publicity. For extensive or otherwise significant projects, it should be assessed whether the projects will have an impact on the rights, responsibilities or status of groups vulnerable to discrimination. An authority must also take its equality promotion obligation into account in its field when steering the administration of its subordinates and the activities of private parties with public administration duties, for instance.
- Education providers must evaluate the realisation of equality for instance with reference to student admission criteria, teaching materials, measures to prevent harassment and bullying, equality in teaching situations, grading of student performance and teachers’ competence in non-discrimination matters.
- The early childhood education and care organisers and service providers must assess how their activities affect different population groups and how equality is realised in their activities, and take the measures needed to promote equality. Early childhood education and care organisers and service providers must ensure that the early childhood education and care facility has a plan for the measures required to promote equality.
- Employers must evaluate the realisation of equality in the workplace and, according to the needs of the workplace, develop working conditions and practices observed in hiring and in HR decisions. Such measures and their effectiveness must be discussed with the personnel or their representatives.
Obligation to draw up an equality promotion plan
Authorities, education providers, educational institutions, early childhood education and care facilities and employers as well as private parties with public administration duties with 30 or more regular employees shall draw up an equality promotion plan covering the measures employed to promote equality. The planning obligation is laid down in the Non-discrimination Act.
If a party with a planning obligation fails to draw up an equality promotion plan, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman can bring the matter to be processed by the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal. The Tribunal can oblige the party to draw up a plan and, if necessary, give a notice of a conditional fine to support the order.