Although the number of people bringing discrimination claims to the employment tribunals is not collected centrally, the number of complaints of discrimination from ET claims is collected. From July to September 2014, there were 5,475 complaints of discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation, or of having suffered a detriment or unfair dismissal due to pregnancy, or complaints relating to equal pay. This compares to just over 18,000 in the quarter from April to June 2013, a fall of 71%.
There has been a particularly shocking fall of more than 90% in the number of sex discrimination cases, including those involving pregnancy-related discrimination. Many women on low incomes cannot apply for fee remission in order to go to an employment tribunal, not because of their own incomes, but because of their partners’ incomes or savings. Does the Minister think that that system is giving those women fair access to justice? Furthermore, is it not penalising good businesses that do not try to get away with poor, discriminatory practices, unlike others which know that there will be no danger of a challenge if they do so?
Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable and unlawful, and the Government have recognised the need to tackle it. In November 2013, we announced an extensive programme of research on perceived pregnancy and maternity discrimination in Great Britain. We have made a commitment to conduct a review of the introduction of the fees, and we will do so, but we think that this is a matter for the next Administration and the next Parliament.