This Directive entered into force on the 2 December 2000. Member States were required to transpose the Directive into domestic law by 2 December 2003. It has been given effect in Irish law in the Equality Act 2004.
The Directive aims to lay down a general framework for combating discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation as regards employment and occupation, with a view to putting into effect in the Member States the principle of equal treatment.
The Directive implements the principle of equal treatment in the area of employment, with regard to disability, religion or belief, age or sexual orientation.
The Directive applies to all persons, including public bodies, in relation to access to employment, employment and working conditions, training, and organisations of workers. Where persons who consider themselves wronged because the principle of equal treatment has not been applied to them establish facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination, the burden is on the respondent to prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment.
The Directive does not cover differences of treatment based on nationality and is without prejudice to provisions and conditions relating to the entry into, residence of, or treatment of (arising from their legal status) third-country nationals and stateless persons in the territory of Member States.
Differences in treatment regarding recruitment into the Police Service of Northern Ireland do not constitute discrimination where those differences in treatment are expressly authorised by national legislation. The Directive’s provisions on religion or belief do not apply to the recruitment of teachers in schools in Northern Ireland where this is expressly authorized by national legislation.