'Mystery calls' unable to fight employment discrimination in Belgium

'Mystery calls' unable to fight employment discrimination in Belgium
"We understand that there are many questions. We’re doing everything possible to inform everyone as quickly as possible,” Credit: Pixabay

The law on "mystery calls" that aims to tackle employment discrimination has for the time being produced no results.

Until now, four possible cases of discrimination have been reported by "mystery calls". Only two of them were approved, but no offence was recorded for either, it emerged from a reply given by the employment minister Nathalie Muylle (CD&V) to one of the parliamentary questions asked by Evita Willaert (Groen), De Morgen reported.

Mystery calls are anonymous practical tests in companies for which there are strong indications that discriminatory activities are taking place based on complaints. Under them, Social Inspectors could present themselves as (potential) customers or employees in companies to demonstrate discrimination, reports Knack

The law came into force at the federal level on 1 April 2018, introducing into the criminal law relating to social welfare legislation the possibility for social inspectors to make use of "mystery calls" with a view to combatting employment discrimination.

Social inspectors were in any case only able to apply the law at the beginning of 2019. If discrimination is suspected, inspectors can themselves investigate and check whether people have effectively been illegally excluded.

Critics had already observed that the law and inspectors' precise powers were so convoluted that it was virtually impossible to detect cases of discrimination with mystery calls.

Furthermore, the law only applies to two specific forms of discrimination: origin and gender. The inspection cannot, therefore, look into whether a person is refused a job for homophobic reasons, a handicap or because he/she is too old.

"The problem is above all that we have not received any complaints to look into," Miet Deckers, the minister's spokesman insisted.

The Brussels Times

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