Pontins owner signs legal agreement to prevent race discrimination
Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited, owner of Pontins, has signed a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to prevent racial discrimination after it became aware of discriminatory practices, including an ‘undesirable guests' list, being used by the organisation.
In February 2020 the EHRC received information from a whistle-blower, employed by Pontins, alleging that the company operated a discriminatory booking policy that excluded Gypsies and Travellers. By declining to provide its services to guests of a certain race or ethnic group, Pontins was directly discriminating on the basis of race and breached the Equality Act 2010.
The discriminatory practices included:
- monitoring calls within its contact centre and refusing or cancelling any bookings that were made by people with an Irish accent or surname;
- a list of Irish surnames, published on its intranet page, titled ‘undesirable guests’ which required staff to block any potential customers with those names from booking; and
- using its Commercial Vehicles policy to exclude Gypsies and Travellers from its holiday parks.
Alastair Pringle, Executive Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “It is hard not to draw comparisons with an ‘undesirable guests’ list and the signs displayed in hotel windows fifty years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and Black people. Banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful. To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement.
“It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action. We will continue to work with Pontins and Britannia Jinky Jersey to ensure that our agreement is adhered to and its practices improve.”
A spokesperson from Britannia Jinky Jersey said:
“Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited has agreed to work together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to further enhance its staff training and procedures in order to further promote equality throughout its business.”
The agreement requires Pontins to:
- Conduct an investigation into the ‘Undesirable guests’ list to ensure appropriate action is taken within the organisation and that lessons are learned;
- Commission a review of its current intelligence system, booking policies and commercial vehicle policy to ensure they are not operating in a discriminatory way, and consider any recommendations;
- Provide enhanced training on equality law for staff in its Human Resources team and members of Senior Management;
- Provide training on equality and diversity for all customer facing staff on an annual basis;
- Appoint Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champions across the organisation.
The agreement is in place from 22 February 2021 and will be monitored by the EHRC to make sure the agreed actions are completed.
If Pontins does not adhere to the terms of the agreement, EHRC has the power to launch a full investigation under section 20 of the Equality Act 2006.