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Belgium – Staffing firms still discriminate against candidates

02 July 2012

A new investigation has revealed that nearly a third of temporary employment agencies in Belgium still discriminate against candidates in the name of their clients who request workers fitting the ‘right’ profile, local newspapers report.

In 2011, the staffing industry was hit by allegations of racism, especially after Adecco was fined for discriminating against jobseekers in a case going back to 2001.

The association of employment agencies, Federgon, has therefore been trying to clean up the staffing industry and conducted an internal control via its ‘mystery shopping’ operation last year. Initial findings showed that around 28% of employment agencies use discriminatory practices and new research, which was presented in the Flemish Parliament last week, seems to indicate that little has changed as 29% are still said to discriminate against candidates.

But Herwig Muyldermans, director at Federgon, argued in the newspaper Standaard that progress has been made as the level of discrimination has decreased particularly in large and medium-sized companies although the problem is more widespread in smaller firms. Federgon said that if it is found that staffing firms continue to discriminate in a third internal check, they risk losing their Federgon quality label.  

The Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CGKR) has long been condemning such practices, calling for the staffing industry and the government “to crack down on companies” using such discriminatory methods. A spokesman of CGKR confirmed to Staffing Industry Analysts that the organisation was actively calling on labour inspectorates to identify staffing firms which discriminate.

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