We As One
The FSDO is an anti-discrimination law passed in 1997. It makes unlawful for anyone or any organisation to discriminate against a person, male or female, on the basis of family status. The FSDO applies to seven different areas.
You are protected in the following areas:
The increasing number of women in the labour market and the 'ageing' of the population in the last decade have made it increasingly necessary for the society to address the needs of workers with family responsibility. Nowadays, family responsibilities like the care of children and elderly parents are the responsibilities of both male and female workers. Workers face growing difficulties in trying to balance the demands of work and family. The potential conflict between work and family commitments affect workers' health, performance, career development, productivity as well as competitiveness.
Family status means that a person has responsibility for the care of an immediate family member. An immediate family member is a person who is related by blood, marriage, adoption or affinity. The types of blood relationships covered include mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandchild, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew and niece. Relationship of marriage is that of husband and wife who are lawfully married. Relationships of affinity are those created by marriage, and include, for instance, mother-in-law and father-in-law.
Yes, it applies to all employers in Hong Kong unless the employee does his/her work wholly or mainly outside Hong Kong. (Please note that the exemption for "small employers" -- whose employees do not exceed 5 persons -- has expired on 26.6. 2000)
You may consider adopting the following practices in addressing the needs of those employees with family status:
There are two kinds of discrimination -- direct discrimination and indirect discrimination.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person on the ground of family status. For example, if a woman is transferred to a less favourable job after childbirth because the employer thinks that a woman with an infant will not be able to travel. If the employer does not apply the same condition to a man with an infant, it could be direct discrimination on ground of family status.
Indirect discrimination occurs when a condition or requirement, that is not justifiable, is applied to everyone but in practice adversely affects persons who have family status. For example, a company insists that all its employees work overtime and a widower who has responsibility for care of his young children cannot comply with that condition. The company then dismisses him. The complainant feels aggrieved because as a single parent he cannot comply with that condition. If the company cannot justify why each and every employee must meet that condition, it could be a case of indirect discrimination on the ground of family status.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee on the basis of his/her family status. For example, If you are applying for a job and the employer finds that your sister works for another company in a similar position, he/she cannot refuse to employ you for that reason. He/She will have to prove that collusion is possible and that it would be harmful to the company.
It is unlawful for a service provider to refuse to provide goods, services or facilities on the basis of family status. It is also unlawful for an educational establishment to deny admission to, or expel a student, because of the same reason.
Yes, if you are treated badly for helping a complainant, you can lodge a complaint of "victimization". If this happens, you are protected under the law and should immediately inform those who are dealing with your friend's or colleague's complaint.
Yes, the provisions of the FSDO apply to the Government, but the latter is exempted from the law in the following areas:
You can take one or more of the following actions:
Remember to make a record of what has happened as soon as possible while the incident is still fresh in your mind. The information will help you to recall details at a later date should you wish to lodge a complaint or take court action.
A complaint must be lodged in writing. You may write it yourself or authorize someone else to do so.
After a complaint is received, the EOC must first investigate into the complaint and decide if it should be discontinued or proceed to conciliation.
Yes, the complainant may be an individual, a group of individuals or any other body.
Yes, you can represent an aggrieved person. A representative complainant must show that he/she has been authorised by the aggrieved person to lodge the complaint. If you have not been authorised, you can still report the case to the EOC. After hearing of your concern, the EOC can look into the matter independently.
You need to lodge a complaint in writing and provide the following:
If you have difficulties preparing a written complaint, the EOC staff can help you.
The EOC is required by law to investigate into the complaint. Allegations by the complainant are sent to the respondent(s) for comment. Responses are then made available to the complainant. Witness statements are taken and pertinent materials gathered to review to see if the case should be discontinued or proceed to conciliation. All information gathered during the investigation stage is kept confidential from third parties but may be used in court proceedings.
The EOC will decide not to conduct or to discontinue an investigation into a complaint if:
If you would like to lodge a complaint with the EOC, you need to do it within 12 months of the incident. If you decide to take legal proceedings to District Court, you need to do it within 24 months of the incident.
The conciliator assists both parties to examine the issues that led to the complaint, identify points of agreement and negotiate a settlement to the dispute. The EOC is required by law to first investigate the case and then try to settle the matter through conciliation. Conciliation is a voluntary process. The conciliator does not act as an advocate for either side but acts as a facilitator. Settlements vary and may include a letter of apology, financial compensation, enactment of equal opportunities policies, etc. Settlement agreements are equivalent to contracts and are legally binding. Read the EOC brochure on conciliation for additional information.
If the complaint cannot be resolved through conciliation, you can apply to the EOC for legal assistance to go to court. Assistance may include the giving of legal advice, representation by the EOC's lawyers, legal representation by outside lawyers or any other form of assistance the EOC considers appropriate. A committee of the EOC considers all applications.
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