Pregnancy: Discrimination

Women and Equalities written question – answered on 22nd February 2018.

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Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she has taken in response to recommendations by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on women taking pregnancy and maternity discrimination cases against their employers to a tribunal.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

Anyone who believes that they have faced discrimination in employment because of pregnancy and maternity is entitled to bring a claim for discrimination in an Employment Tribunal. The report of research undertaken by the then Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the EHRC into pregnancy and maternity related discrimination and disadvantage, published in 2015-16, made two recommendations intended to help women take pregnancy and maternity discrimination cases to an Employment Tribunal:

  • in light of the findings of the review, make changes to the Employment Tribunal fee system to ensure that fees are not a barrier to accessing justice for women experiencing pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and
  • consider increasing the time limit for a woman to bring an Employment Tribunal claim in cases involving pregnancy and maternity discrimination from three to six months, in line with other employment claims such as redundancy and equal pay.

Fees for bringing a claim before an Employment Tribunal have now been withdrawn, following the case of R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor on Employment Tribunals fees. We immediately stopped charging fees in Employment Tribunals after the Supreme Court judgment and said we would refund those who had paid fees. The full refund scheme was launched on 15 November.

Tribunal rules already allow the time limit to bring a claim be extended where it is just and equitable to do so. Government has asked H.M. Court and Tribunal Service to consider the scope for collecting data on the number of requests made for extensions and the types of cases involved. The Government will consider the results of any exercise carefully to see if any further action is required.

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