Fourteen member states have been ordered by the European Commission to do away with discriminatory provisions in their employment legislation. On 31 January, the EU executive sent reasoned opinions (second stage of infringement proceedings) to 11 countries that have not yet fully transposed the Employment Directive (2000/78/EC), which bans discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of religious beliefs, age, disability and sexual orientation. The deadline for transposition of the directive was December 2003. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Italy, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden have two months to respond. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to take them to the European Court of Justice.

The main problem areas include the following: protection of civil servants and access to self-employment are not always guaranteed; the obligation for employers to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers is not always correctly implemented; provisions designed to help victims of discrimination are inconsistent (reversal of the burden of proof, right of associations to assist individuals with their cases).

Germany was sent a letter of formal notice (first stage of the procedure) because its legislation does not cover...

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