Advocacy for Policy Action on Equal Employment Opportunities for Roma

09 May 2005

Advocacy for Policy Action on Equal Employment Opportunities for Roma

Objective: Publication of report mapping out patterns of discrimination against Roma in employment and proposing government action to ensure equal employment opportunities for Roma.

Geographic coverage: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

Timeframe: 2005/2006

Throughout Central and Eastern Europe there are clear indications that 'racial discrimination is a powerful force which hinders access to the labour market for many Roma'.1 Although there have been some individual discrimination cases, thus far no attempt has been made to examine and compare the problems of discrimination and exclusion of Roma from (and in) employment, or to gather examples, across the Central and Eastern European countries. In terms of influencing employment, training and anti-discrimination policies in Central and Eastern Europe, the need for robust and conclusive information about the discrimination of Roma from (and in) employment is urgent.

The aim of the action is to:

  1. To clearly demonstrate and document selected and recurring instances of discrimination of Roma from (and in) employment across five Central and Eastern European countries: Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Hungary; Slovakia and Romania, and
  2. To formulate policy recommendations for effective monitoring and implementation of measures to counteract the discrimination of Roma in employment.

Respectively, the project's focus is on: a) providing common examples and individual case studies to give a clear insight into how direct and indirect discrimination, and exclusionary practices are exercised against Roma individuals in the world of work; and b) analyzing positive models of equal opportunity policies existing outside the region and identifying approaches to combating discrimination and exclusion from the labour market which can be implemented in the five countries.

Examples of discrimination which takes place: 

  • During the job search and recruitment process;
  • In the work place, for example is there equality between non-Roma and Roma employees in relation to the conditions of employment, the working environment, the working hours , the rates of pay; and also the types of employment that are available for Roma; does employment match qualifications (under-employment); what are the promotion prospects; are there equal opportunities for advancement or personal development;
  • Examples of discrimination or exclusionary practices which prevent Romani businesses from tendering for work contracts, either private or public;
  • Examples of discriminatory practices applied by labour market gate-keepers (people with key roles in the employment and hiring process, such as officials in labour offices, staff in private employment services and personnel managers to name a few) whose actions serve to deny Roma individuals access to jobs vacancies and information about hiring firms.

Current evidence suggests that there is no comprehensive understanding among public administrators and employers of the nature of discriminatory treatment facing Roma, and other ethnic minorities, in the field of employment. Moreover, anti-discrimination policies and positive action measures to equalise opportunities in various sectoral fields are at present underdeveloped and sometimes strongly opposed by various actors in the public field. This background calls for generally two types of action: a) advocacy at national and international levels aimed at pressuring governments to proceed with in-depth analysis of exclusion from the labour market of Roma and other vulnerable ethnic minorities and implement policies to counteract these tendencies; and b) training of public officials and employers focusing on implementation of mechanisms for monitoring and confronting patterns of exclusion and discrimination of Roma in employment. The results of the ERRC research will provide a solid basis for both developing anti-discrimination training programs and policies to combat discrimination in access to employment.

The project is implemented by the ERRC in partnership with the following organisations and individuals:

Bulgaria – Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Czech Republic – ERRC consultants Ms Jana Kabelacova and Ms Lucie Fremlova
Hungary – Romnet Media Alapitvany
Romania – Agency for Community Development Impreuna
Slovakia – Milan Simecka Foundation

ERRC Senior Consultant: Ms Ann Hyde, Labour Market and Social Inclusion Specialist

ERRC is thankful to the Open Society Institute Economic and Business Development Program, which provided additional funding for the realisation of this project.


  1. The Situation of Roma in and Enlarged European Union, Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs (2004)



Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities