According to the Constitution no one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.
In addition, the Constitution obliges the promotion of the equality of the sexes in societal activity and working life, especially in the determination of pay and the other terms of employment.
The objectives of the Act on Equality between Women and Men are to prevent discrimination based on gender, to promote equality between women and men, and thus to improve the status of women, particularly in working life. The Act also applies to members of sexual minorities, such as transgendered persons.
The Equality Act is applied extensively in the activities of society and in different areas of life. Only private life and religious practice have been excluded.
The Act on Equality between Women and Men
The Equality Act contains stipulations on the promotion of equality, a prohibition against discrimination, and legal protection.
Regulations for promoting equality apply to officials, organisers of education, and employers. In the activities of officials it is important to evaluate all activities from the point of view of the different genders. This is referred to as the mainstreaming of the gender point of view. Equality is also promoted through quotas.
Equality planning is the most important tool for promoting equality in educational institutions and at work. Officials, organisers of education, and employers must also prevent discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
Gender-based discrimination is prohibited in all of its forms. Gender-based discrimination means treating someone differently on the basis of gender, pregnancy, giving birth, parenthood, family responsibilities, gender identity, or gender expression.
Sexual or gender-based harassment, ordering or instructing another person to engage in discrimination, or reprisal measures for appealing to rights are considered discrimination. Discrimination can also result from a reason or assumed reason involving a person close to the person discriminated against.
The Non-discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, state of health, disability, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics.
The Non-discrimination Act also has stipulations on the advancement of non-discrimination.
Employment Contracts Act
The Employment Contracts Act includes the requirement of equal treatment, prohibiting improper treatment of an employee, and includes regulations for return from family leave.
Supervision of the legislation
Compliance with the Equality Act is monitored by the Ombudsman for Equality and the National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal.
The Ombudsman for Equality gives instructions and advice in questions concerning the implementation of the Equality Act, such as prohibitions of discrimination, and equality planning.
The tribunal may ban a discriminatory practice on pain of a fine, and may, at the proposal of the Ombudsman for Equality, require the drafting of an equality plan within a set period of time.
The website of the Ombudsman also gives further information on what to do if a person suspects that he or she has suffered discrimination on the basis of gender.
Compliance with the Non-discrimination Act is monitored by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, occupational health and safety officials, and the National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal.
- Non-Discrimination Ombudsman (formerly the Minority Ombudsman)
- National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal
Supervision of the Employment Contracts Act and the supervision of individual cases falling under the scope of the Non-discrimination Act in working life are the responsibility of the occupational health and safety areas of responsibility of the Regional State Administrative Agencies. Contact information of the occupational health and safety areas of responsibility of the Regional State Administrative Agencies