Mystery calls against discrimination to go ahead

Summary

After two years of waiting for employers’ organisations to respond to his call to self-regulate discriminatory practices in hiring, labour minister Kris Peeters will press ahead with his own system

‘They have had enough time’

Federal labour minister Kris Peeters (CD&V) has announced that he will press ahead with a plan to use “mystery calls” to help tackle discrimination in the job market. The plan is opposed by coalition partners N-VA and Open VLD.

Mystery calls involve inspectors from groups who are regularly discriminated against posing as job applicants. Such groups include people with an immigration background, the disabled and over-50s. When told the vacancy has already been filled, another inspector would then repeat the process to see if they get a different response.

Peeters first raised the matter in 2015, and the government agreed to a resolution to allow employers organisations and unions two years to adopt a system of self-regulation. That deadline has now passed.

“At the end of last week the National Works Council provided me with its advice on mystery calls,” Peeters said. “The social partners are asking for more time to discuss it, but they have had time enough.”

According to a spokesperson for the minister, a selection of organisations, including the Minorities Forum, were asked to provide an evaluation of the recommendations in the 2015 resolution. “Of the 13 recommendations in the resolution, not a single one has been put into practice,” the spokesperson said.

Unizo, which represents the self-employed in Flanders, said that it was about to meet with Peeters to discuss its plan for addresses discrimination in the market. “We regret that Peeters has put out this sort of communication and clearly has no desire to wait for employers’ plans to take action against discrimination,” the organisation said in a statement.

Trade union ACV, however, supports the plan to go ahead with the programme. “Self-regulation and fine words are not working, that has become obvious,” an ACV spokesperson said. “We have to find other ways to tackle the huge problem of discrimination.”