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Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic

Amsterdam Law Clinics

The Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic is an initiative of students and staff of the Amsterdam Law School and provides legal services on all questions related to social rights, labour exploitation and equality law. In the clinic students will acquire knowledge to be able to build up a solid case. Clinic students will be directly involved in providing legal advice on international and national labour law, equality law, and economic and social rights with the aim to remedy violations of fundamental labour rights and economic and social rights.

The clinic offers pro bono services to a variety of organizations as well as individual clients on questions of labour law and equality law. It encourages students’ critical thinking about the functions of law in society and its possibility to make positive changes especially in relation to labour rights, equality law and economic and social rights.

Sign with a protest

Teamwork and a hands-on approach

Top students in their final years of study at the Amsterdam Law School carry out research in teams at the clinic. They are closely supervised by members of the faculty, among others from the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS-HSI). They receive intensive, hands-on, guidance on how to conduct legal research, and how to write a legal opinion for external clients. Emphasis is placed on professionalism, high quality work, teamwork, and respect for confidentiality.

Clinical work

Clinical work consists of projects undertaken for clients for which the students conduct legal research, provide legal advice and draft legal documents. The clinical work is conducted in a team of 3 -5 students with regular meetings with supervisors (and clients).

Lejla Brkic (FWELC Spring ’20) Master Staats- en Bestuursrecht
Copyright: FdR
Participating in the Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic was an excellent way for me to get a better grasp of what it is like to work for a client as a lawyer. I learned a great deal from writing a case file together with the actual lawyers, and working with students from different masters was really helpful and provided new insights. Lejla Brkic, Fair Work & Equality Law Clinic, 2019/2020

Clinical Programme

In addition to the Clinical Programme of the Amsterdam Law Clinics , the Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic offers a thematic workshop to its students.

Through this workshop you will acquire a thorough knowledge of the regulation of work and the role of labour and equality law at EU and international level (ILO, UN, and Council of Europe). An overview will be provided of the European, international and Dutch legislation prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sex, race or ethnic origin, as well as on disability, age, sexual orientation or religion/beliefs in a number of areas. This background will allow you to analyse labour law, decent work, and equality law issues in the national and international legal context. 

Key issues for discussion will include:

  • Sources of law
  • Key concepts: Direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment
  • Burden of proof
  • Remedies and sanctions

Current projects 

One of the cases for the first semester of the academic year 2021/2022 (starting in September) concerns assisting a Dutch NGO in drafting one or more summons in the field of labour law and doing research for this NGO, inter alia on the changed scope of the section on collective action in the Dutch Civil Code.

In addition, at the request of the client SOMO (Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen - Expertise Centre on Multinational Corporations), students will look at the best way to ensure that multinationals are liable for damages in the supply chain. SOMO is investigating the possibility of risk liability being included in new legislation.

According to the UNGP and OECD Guidelines, companies have an obligation to identify and reduce risks of human rights violations (including violations of fundamental labour rights). There is currently a proposal for a bill about a duty of care for companies, stating that companies are liable if human rights violations do occur. A logical next step could be risk liability ('strict liability') for multinational companies operating in the Netherlands. 

The Clinic students will provide a report examining the following questions proposed by SOMO:

  1. What can we learn from the political and social processes that have led to the inclusion in the legislation of other forms of risk liability? (ie. product liability and liability of an employer for accidents at work.)
  2. What does legal literature say about risk liability? What elements does this consist of or can it consist of and what are the advantages and disadvantages of risk liability?
  3. In the light of legislation, literature, and case law on risk liability, what are the possibilities to establish risk liability for companies for human rights violations in the supply chain?

A third case for the Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic for the academic year 2021/2022 entails a comparative Study on Health and Safety at Work in the Personal and Household Services Sector.

Students will write a comparative report regarding Health and Safety at work in the Personal and household services sector (domestic work, care services for individuals at home) covering the case studies of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy. For this project, students will be in close contact with the EFSI, examine the legislation, case law and best practices regarding health and safety protection in this sector and conduct interviews with stakeholders in these three countries. 

Prior projects

From February 2021 onwards, students participating at the Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic looked at the issue of labour exploitation of EU migrant workers working for temporary work agencies in the Netherlands. The clinic dealt with the cases of Spanish and Polish workers who have labour problems or have been victims of labour abuses. The aim of the clinical project is to discuss their cases with the students of the clinic, provide an inventarisation of most common, repetitive problems of labour migrants working for temporary work agencies in the Netherlands, and offer them legal advice for their cases.
Polish and Spanish migrant workers have been very much affected by this type of problems during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a very actual and relevant question currently due to the coronavirus crisis and the Roemer commission that is advising the Government on recommendations about the legal modifications which could be introduced to improve the lives of temporary agency workers, more than 400,000 in the country and some of them in a very precarious situation.

Previously, the Fair Work and Equality Law Clinics researched whether the exclusion from social security benefits of workers who work less than four days a week as a domestic worker – which includes providing medical care on the basis of government budget provided to their private employers – constitutes (indirect) discrimination against women, given that the vast majority of these domestic workers are women.

In addition, the Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic has looked at the issue of  (indirect) discrimination. The case concerned the topic of equal pay for men and women. The legal question at hand saw to the practice of basing the salary of an employee on his/her last-earned salary in a previous job and whether this constitutes (indirect) discrimination of women. In this case, the clinic has been working together with pro bono lawyers.

Publications

In the spring semester of 2020/2021, master students of the Fair Work & Equality Law Clinic wrote a report concerning Labour Exploitation of Polish Migrant Workers in the Netherlands. An executive summary of the findings is available here.

Another group of students has looked at the situation of Spanish migrant workers in the Netherlands. A summary of the findings as well as recommendations are available here.

Contact us

For any questions regarding the Fair Work & Equality Clinic, please email us at amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl or contact:

Mr. dr. M.S.A. (Marlies) Vegter

Faculty of Law

Labour Law

Dr. N.E. (Nuria) Ramos Martin

Faculty of Law

Labour Law

Requirements and eligibility

The Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic is in principle open for all Master's students of the Amsterdam Law School.

Other requirements are:

  • You are available at least 10 hours per week 
  • You have a strong work ethic, excellent communication and English-writing skills, and a genuine interest in labour law, fair working conditions and human rights law.

Contact former clinic students

If you're interested in more hands-on information about the clinic and experiences from former Fair Work and Equality Law Clinic students, you can contact any of the following former students. Send an e-mail to amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl and we will provide you with the relevant contact information.

2019-2020 2020-2021
Jitte Rickli Kenza Mena
Valentine Schols Sergi Riudalbàs
Lejla Brkic  
Anastasiia Kachalova