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Working Outside the Jurisdiction

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Does the Equality Act 2010 protect people in the UK who apply to work on foreign ships operating outside of UK waters?

No, held the EAT in Walker v Wallem Ships Management, dismissing (with regret) the Claimant's appeal against the tribunal's finding that it had no jurisdiction.

The Claimant was a cadet deck officer who applied for a job with the Hong Kong based Respondent recruiter to work on foreign registered ships outside UK waters. She was not offered work as she was a woman; the Respondent only hired men to work on its clients' ships. The Respondent accepted that this was direct sex discrimination, its defence being that the Equality Act did not apply as the Regulations made under s81 - the Equality Act (Work on Ships and Hovercraft) Regulations 2011 - only prohibit discrimination in prescribed circumstances, which did not include the Claimant's situation. The 2011 Regulations remove the whole of Part V of the Equality Act (Work) from foreign vessels subject to limited exceptions that weren't applicable.

The EAT noted that the Claimant had a potential claim against the UK government for failure to implement the EU's Equal Treatment Directive, but not against the Respondent, a non-State body. The EAT noted that the 2011 Regulations are due to be reviewed by 31st July 2021 and suggested that the Secretary of State revisit their scope.

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary.