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Employment Tribunal Fees

Volume 618: debated on Thursday 8 December 2016

7. What assessment she has made of the effect of the introduction of employment tribunal fees on access to justice for women. (907765)

The Government are undertaking a post-implementation review of the introduction of fees for employment tribunal proceedings. The review is considering, so far as possible, the impact fees have had on women and those with other protected characteristics, and the type of cases they bring. The Ministry of Justice will announce the conclusions of the review in due course.

The Minister will surely be aware of the wealth of evidence submitted to the review that the number of tribunal claims has fallen by 80%. Only 1% of women discriminated against at work have brought a claim to tribunal. There is a whole raft of evidence suggesting that tribunal fees are denying women access to justice. Will she make representations to the Ministry of Justice?

There is no doubt that the number of tribunals has gone down, but in actual fact there is good news here, in the sense that people have been diverted from potentially acrimonious tribunal hearings and into mediation. ACAS has given people the opportunity to resolve their differences through conciliation, and that scheme was used by over 92,000 people last year.

It is well documented that the Minister for Women and Equalities has been sitting on her Government’s equality impact assessment since October 2015, and although I have made several requests to have sight of it and for it to be put in the public domain, I have been consistently told “in due course”. I am still waiting for an explanation of how long that means. Given that this week she published an equality analysis of further changes that the Government want to make to employment tribunals, will she now commit to publishing the document, announced and on her desk since 2015, before we break for Christmas?

The hon. Lady has made her point very clearly. I will speak to the MOJ, and we will get back to her as soon as possible.