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Discrimination against oil and gas workers

Much has been said in the press recently about oil and gas sector workers facing ‘discrimination’ from recruiters and prospective employers. There are concerns that some workers are being overlooked for new opportunities due to a belief they will return to the sector upon its recovery.

The issue has prompted Gillian Martin MSP for Aberdeenshire East to write to the UK Employment Minister to raise her concerns over the alleged practice. The government has indicated that it will respond in due course.

But, would treating an individual in this way amount to discrimination under existing employment laws?

The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals in employment, and those seeking employment, from discrimination on the basis of, for example, age, disability, race and religion.

At present, however, the simple fact that an individual was previously employed in the oil and gas industry would not, of itself, provide grounds for a discrimination claim. It is very unlikely that discrimination legislation would be amended to protect those who have worked in a particular sector.

‘Blacklisting’ legislation means that employers cannot refuse to employ someone because they are named on a ‘prohibited list’ i.e. a list of trade union members or those who have taken part in trade union activities, which was compiled to enable employers to discriminate against people because of their trade union involvement. Again, this provides no protection for individuals who are refused employment simply because they previously worked in the oil and gas sector.

It remains to be seen what the government says in its response to Ms Martin’s letter and what further action, if any, it takes. We will update this blog if more information becomes available.

Workbox users can access more information on both discrimination and blacklisting via dedicated pages on the site.

If you have any queries relating to you recruitment practices or around discrimination more generally, please get in touch with one of the team at Brodies.


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