WBTI Recommendations on tribunal fees

The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Report in 2016 includes the statements that “employment tribunal fees were introduced in 2013 (except in Northern Ireland) and it now costs £1200 to bring a discrimination claim. Employment tribunal fees constitute a significant financial barrier to accessing justice. The number of employment tribunal claims decreased by 70% following introduction of the fees.”

The unanimous recommendations by the WBTi Core Group organisations included:
“that governments ensure that tribunal access is available to women from all income brackets.”

Tribunal fees ended with immediate effect

The excellent news is that on 26th July 2017 the UK Supreme Court ended employment tribunal fees with immediate effect. The Parliamentary Justice Committee had recommended special consideration for pregnancy and maternity discrimination claims in 2016 but as no government action followed, the trade union Unison took the issue to court. Rosalind Bragg, Director of Maternity Action, has written about this in more detail:

https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/2017/07/an-end-to-employment-tribunal-fees-a-great-step-forward-for-maternity-rights/

 

The Press summary of the judgment explains that “The Fees Order is unlawful under both domestic and EU law because it has the effect of preventing access to justice. ” It indirectly discriminates against women under the Equality Act 2010 because more women make Type B claims, which include unfair dismissal, equal pay and discrimination.

https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0233-press-summary.pdf

Maternity discrimination in employment

This is only a start in tackling employment discrimination though and the Alliance for Maternity Rights Action Plan comprises several needs:

  • to build on existing legislation and not weaken it
  • for the government to show leadership in changinge the culture away from discrimination
  • for employer practices to improve
  • to improve access to information for both employers and women
  • to ensure proper protection of the health and safety of expectant and new mothers
  • for improved access to justice
  • for better monitoring of trends

https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/AfMRActionPlanFINALOct2016.pdf

 

Another change to improve access to justice that is listed in the Plan is to extend the timeline for making a claim from 3 months to 6 months. Joeli Brearley set up Pregnant then screwed to tackle employment discrimination and her #GivemeSix petition aims to achieve this extension so that mothers can begin a tribunal claim after they give birth and avoid risking extra stress in pregnancy. The Early Day Motion (EDM15) to increase the time limit has been signed by 87 MPs so far, approaching the target of 100.

https://www.change.org/p/greg-clark-mp-give-new-and-expectant-mothers-six-months-to-pursue-discrimination-claims?utm_content=petition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=102275&utm_campaign=campaigns_digest&sfmc_tk=OyJbS47tFVxLRElMEsk%2bNSNfCtOF6k3%2fETm0uXsnz2ju4w8G3nxfLYMR7gqAqApc&j=102275&sfmc_sub=284797866&l=32_HTML&u=20470025&mid=7259882&jb=1560

Here is a short video that you can share on why maternity protection is important:

 

 

 

Patricia Wise is an NCT breastfeeding counsellor and a member of the WBTi Steering Group

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