The majority of employment and discrimination laws in Northern Ireland closely reflect the legislation in England, Scotland and Wales. The biggest difference is the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (FETO).

The Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 consolidated and amended the Fair Employment Act 1976 and the Fair Employment Act 1989. The legislation covers discrimination on the grounds of both religion and political opinion. The framework of the Order mirrors that of Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation. Claims of discrimination on grounds of religious belief or political opinion are heard by the Fair Employment Tribunal.

In Northern Ireland, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Labour Relations Agency publish codes of practice on discrimination and employment laws respectively.

This topic looks at the extra equality duties imposed on employers in Northern Ireland as a result of the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Order. The categories of protected workers are explained and the types of discrimination are discussed, including the idea of sectarian harassment. Guidance is given on the requirement on firms to register with the Equality Commission and how the law applies to affirmative action and redundancy. The role and responsibilities of the Equality Commission is explained.

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