Equal treatment is an important concern of the BMLRT. The Federal Working Group on Equality Issues has been established to assist in the implementation of the objectives set out in the Federal Equal Treatment Act (“Gleichbehandlungsgesetz”).
The Equal Treatment Working Group
The Equal Treatment Working Group is structured along 8 fields of activity:
- Central Unit Agriculture
- Federal Gardens
- Torrent and avalanche control
- Agricultural and forestry schools
- Water management
- Federal institutes and agencies
- Telecommunications & postal Service
- Civilian service
Once every year, the persons in charge of equal treatment issues, their deputies, and the persons in charge of women’s affairs of the local agencies meet for a further training conference.
The responsibilities of the Quality Inspection Service
The persons in charge of issues related to equal treatment, so-called 'compliance officers', have to attend to all matters concerning equal treatment of men and women, women’s advancement and equal treatment without discrimination due to ethnic origin, religion or belief, age or sexual orientation.
They have to respond to questions, wishes, complaints or notifications raised by staff members on equal treatment issues.
They are independent and subject to strict obligations of confidentiality.
Ambitious women’s advancement plan
We are particularly proud of our ambitious women’s advancement plan with targets for the Ministry which has to be submitted to the employer on proposal of the Working Group.
The plan is a regulation of the Ministry and, among other things, aims at integrating the advancement of women into the staff development, at raising the share of women – especially also at the higher management levels, improving the compatibility of work and private life or the equal participation of women in decision-making and advisory bodies.
Some measures of the plan
Measures include for example mentoring programmes, education and further education programmes, the establishment of gender mainstreaming, or proactive career panning for women.
Publications of the Ministry must be in gender-neutral language; (sexual) harassment and mobbing are prohibited and must not be tolerated; furthermore, the employer has to offer opportunities for part-time work also for top management positions.
The Ministry also promotes paternal leave and, above all, offers women who start work again after maternity leave and employees living at a far distance from the office telecommuting opportunities.
Members of commissions, boards and advisory councils are to be chosen on equal terms; a female expert database is available.
The implementation of all the measures set out in the women’s advancement plan is an official duty which is monitored as part of the report of the Internal Audit Service.
The chairwoman of the Working Group for Equality Issues has the right to nominate a person who participates in the meetings of the review boards in an advisory capacity.
If there are good reasons for suspicion, the compliance officer can file disciplinary proceedings with written approval from the official concerned.
She can also submit applications to the Federal Equal Treatment Commission.
Presently a pilot project is being worked out which is to offer 5 women opportunities for telecommuting instead of maternity leave.