The government is considering extending the protections for pregnant and new mothers in response to the Women and Equalities Committee report in the middle of last year. Quite when the consultation will begin is not clear, we are only told it will occur “in due course”, however one does wonder whether the increased protections will really have any teeth.
Whilst all the evidence is that the introduction of fees in employment tribunals has resulted in a huge reduction in claims being brought, various bodies say that it is pregnant and new mothers who are disproportionately affected by the requirement to pay fees to present claims to a tribunal. One can see the logic and force in such arguments: a new child brings with it a whole new world of pressures on the finances, and having to find over £1,200 to present a claim and have a hearing is an expense many mothers may not wish to pay even if they could.
Whilst the move for wider and greater protection is clearly welcome it will not be effective without a discussion on access to justice.