The Government continue to look closely at extending time limits for these Equality Act cases. However, these decisions must take account of wider impacts across the justice system. The pandemic has put additional pressure on the entire Courts and Tribunals Service, and restoring existing service levels needs to be prioritised before additional loading is added.
I thank the Minister for his answer. The Government have committed to considering extending the time limits for Equality Act claims in employment tribunals. Currently, a three-month time limit means that pregnant women have to bring a case in the first months after birth, and sexual harassment victims have to do so while they are still incredibly traumatised. That is unconscionably restrictive, and because it forces people down the litigation route before mediation is finished, it is probably also very inefficient. Will the Department deliver an extension so that those who are subject to workplace harassment and discrimination can access justice?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue. The tribunal already has the discretion to provide the extension that she is seeking, where it considers it to be just and equitable to do so. This is a Government Equalities Office lead, and as the Ministry of Justice we are happy to engage with the GEO and to look at this closely.