Media Briefing Notes following the 67th EOC Meeting of 14 June 2007
Members of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met today (Thursday, 14 June 2007) and discussed various matters related to the Commission's business including the following :
1. Report and Recommendations of the Working Group on the Desirability of Establishing an Equal Opportunities Tribunal
2. Update on Progress of Formal Investigation on Accessibility in Certain Publicly Accessible Premises
3. Progress on Race Discrimination Bill Preparation
4. Reports of the Legal & Complaints Committee, Community Participation & Publicity Committee, Public Education & Research Committee, Administration & Finance Committee.
Commission Members discussed the recommendations of the Working Group on the desirability of establishing an Equal Opportunities Tribunal (EOT). Members considered taking steps to recommend to the Government the establishment of a specialized EOT. The features of the proposed EOT were also being discussed.
The Chairperson of the EOC, Mr. Raymond TANG, updated Members on the latest situation regarding the Formal Investigation on Accessibility in certain Publicly Accessible Premises, which was publicly announced in the government gazette 8th December, 2006. The actual audit has commenced on 1 June 2007. Contacts have been made with various disability groups. Focus group discussions will also be held with stakeholders.
The Chairperson also updated Members on the steps taken in preparation of the enactment of the Race Discrimination Bill, which included providing training and study programmes for staff, conducting research projects and surveys, preparation of Code(s) of Practice, networking and organizing community awareness programmes, and drafting of an internal language policy.
Brief reports from the Commission's 4 Committees were discussed, charting the progress of various aspects of the EOC’s work in the past quarter. For noting and record purposes, EOC’s financial position for the first six months as at 31 March 2007 was reported at the meeting today.
Statistics for 5 months
From January to May 2007, a total of 314 complaints were received compared with 305 in the same period last year, representing an increase of 3%. Under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), up until May this year, 189 complaints were received, an increase of 10% over the same period in 2006, when 172 were received. A decrease of 7% was recorded for complaints received under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), 114 cases were received in the first five months of 2007, compared with 122 in the same period of last year. Complaint cases received under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) totaled 11 cases so far this year, the same number was recorded in the same period last year. By respective Ordinance, 60% of the complaints were on the DDO, 36% were on SDO and 4% on FSDO.
The Commission has recorded an increase in the number of disability discrimination complaints relating to sick leave. In the first five months of 2007, 45 complaints relating to sick leave were received, compared with 27 in the same period last year, representing an increase of 67%. It is unlawful under the DDO to discriminate against a person because of his/her disability. If an employee suffers from an illness and has taken a period of sick leave, the employer should consider providing accommodation to help the employee, unless it becomes unjustifiable hardship for the employer to do so.
Minutes of the 67th EOC meeting will be uploaded to the Commission's website at http://www.eoc.org.hk following Members' confirmation of its content at the next meeting on 20 September 2007.
Media Enquiries : Ms. Mariana LAW (Tel No. : 2106-2226)