Employment and pensions: Burden of Proof Directive

United Kingdom

Burden of proof directive

On 15 December 1997, EU social affairs ministers unanimously agreed to adopt a Directive adjusting the burden of proof in sex discrimination cases.

The new Directive must be implemented by the Member States by 1 January 2001 and will apply to situations covered by the Treaty's Article 119, which guarantees the principle of equal treatment and access to employment. The Directive covers both direct and indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination is a rule or practice which is apparently neutral yet affects a higher proportion of one sex, unless it is justified by independent factors.

The Commission will soon table a Proposal to extend this new Directive to the UK which has not yet ratified the Social Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty. The social protocol has been incorporated into the EC Treaty by the Amsterdam Treaty which the UK has signed.