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Discrimination Claims: Tribunal Fees

  1. Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) (Lab)

    4.

    What steps she is taking to ensure that women who were unable to pursue pregnancy and maternity discrimination claims due to the cost of employment tribunal fees are able to bring forward their cases.[901058]

  2. The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Dominic Raab)

    Anyone who believes that they were prevented from bringing an employment tribunal claim because they could not afford to pay the fee can make an application to the tribunal for permission to bring a claim out of time. The tribunal would then consider the application and apply the relevant legal criteria.

  3. Mr Speaker

    The Minister is in a muddle. He is supposed to be grouping the question with No. 6, which was the request of his Department to my office to which I agreed, but which he appears to have forgotten.

  4. Dominic Raab

    I apologise, Mr Speaker. With permission, I would like to group questions 4 and 6, and I refer to the answer that I have just given.

  5. Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)

    6.

    What steps she is taking to ensure that women who were unable to pursue pregnancy and maternity discrimination claims due to the cost of employment tribunal fees are able to bring forward their cases.[901060]

  6. Daniel Zeichner

    The Government’s research into maternity-related discrimination shows that one in nine mothers reports that they were either dismissed, made redundant or treated so badly that they had to leave their job. Following the Supreme Court case brought by Unison, the union I used to work for, what specific action are the Government taking to identify those who could have brought claims but did not because the Government acted unlawfully?

  7. Dominic Raab

    The Supreme Court judgment was clear on fees and we immediately stopped charging fees in response. We are putting in place the detailed arrangements to ensure that those who paid fees are refunded. We will shortly announce the practical detail that the hon. Gentleman is looking for. As I indicated a moment ago, those who could not apply to the tribunal because of the fee will now have the opportunity to do so.

  8. Justin Madders

    I understand that the Government are considering how to approach the system, but will the Minister rule out any type of up-front fee to access justice in employment tribunals in the future?

  9. Dominic Raab

    We are clear that we are accepting the Supreme Court judgment. If the hon. Gentleman would like to read the judgment, he will see that it makes clear that there can be, in principle, a place for fees in the justice system. We need to strike the right balance between taxpayers subsidising the justice system and those who benefit from it making a contribution, but only when they are able to do so.

  10. Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)

    May I first ask the House to send our best get well wishes to our spokesperson on women and equalities, my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Angela Crawley), who cannot be here today because she was in a car accident last week and is recovering at home?

    I was glad to see the Supreme Court rule out tribunal fees because it has been a case of justice denied for so many thousands of women over the past years. There are still barriers for women accessing tribunal fees. The March of the Mummies will take place on Tuesday 31 October to ask specifically for an extension from three to six months to allow women more time to apply for the tribunal fees. Will the Minister meet me and those campaigners on 31 October?

  11. Dominic Raab

    First, I join the hon. Lady in extending my condolences and those of the Government to her colleague.

    In relation to the Supreme Court judgment, I have to correct her. It was the balance of the fees that was an issue, and the judgment made it clear that it was, in principle, possible to have fees, but I am happy to meet the hon. Lady and look at her suggestions.