On 30 November 2018, legislation was gazetted which proposes various amendments to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Disability Discrimination Ordinance, Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and the Race Discrimination Ordinance. The proposed amendments reflect eight of the recommendations from the Equal Opportunities Commission Report on the Discrimination Law Review. Key changes include extending protections against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding and extending protections against disability and racial harassment by customers.
The proposed changes are:
- expressly prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding;
- providing protection from direct and indirect racial discrimination and racial harassment by imputation (i.e. where race is attributed to a person whether or not they are in fact of that particular racial group);
- protecting service providers from disability and racial harassment by customers;
- providing protection from disability and racial harassment between service providers and customers for acts of harassment on Hong Kong registered aircraft and ships;
- expanding the scope of protection from sexual, disability and racial harassment between “workplace participants” working in a common workplace;
- replacing the references to “near relative” in the Race Discrimination Ordinance with references to “associate” with the effect of extending the protection to a wider category of persons;
- protecting members or applicants for membership of a club from sexual and disability harassment by the management of the club; and
- removing the ability for a respondent to avoid an award of damages in relation to unlawful indirect discrimination where they can demonstrate that the requirement or condition concerned was not applied with the intention of treating the individual unfavourably.
The amending legislation is to be introduced into the Legislative Council on for first and second readings on 12 December 2018. Employers in Hong Kong should monitor the progress of these changes so that they may update any internal policies to ensure they are compliance should the changes come into law.