Proposal for undercover applicants to fight job discrimination


Employers in Belgium continue to be reticent to hire people with migrant backgrounds or who are over 50, something the federal labour minister would like to do something about

Is the job really taken?

Federal labour minister Kris Peeters (CD&V) is has reportedly completed a proposal for a bill that would see “mystery calls” made to tackle discrimination in the jobs market.

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 repeats the process to see if they get a different response.

At the moment, labour inspectors are obliged to identify themselves, which makes such undercover work impossible. Peeters’ bill would allow an exception to that rule.

“Mystery calls offer an extra instrument in the fight against discrimination in the labour market,” said Peeters (pictured). “Inspectors will only use the process following a complaint or where there is suspicion of discrimination.”

Both N-VA and Open VLD have expressed opposition to the introduction of mystery calls, in favour of a system of self-regulation of the sectors. Only if that proves to be ineffective should the government resort to mystery calls, they have said.

“Only the temping and service cheques sectors currently have self-regulation policies,” according to Vincent Van Quickenborne of Open VLD. “We will be studying the proposed bill, but at first glance it looks as though Peeters is bringing in a parallel system of self-regulation and mystery calls.” That, he said, is not in keeping with the resolution agreed to by the majority parties in 2015. 

Photo courtesy ATV