House of Commons Justice Committee reports on court and tribunal fees
The House of Commons Justice Committee has recently published its critical review of Court and Tribunal Fees. The review covers the impact of Employment Tribunal Fees and notes there has been a steep decline (a drop of 70%) in the number of claims being brought. The report states that ET fees have had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims.
The report sets out four main recommendations:
- Overall quantum of fees charged be “substantially reduced”
- The abolition of the current Type A and B distinction, to be replaced by either a three tier system or a system where the amount payable is attributable to the amount claimed.
- Fee remission thresholds should be increased and no more than one fee remission application should be required
- An increase in the three month time limit to bring an Employment Claim for women who are claiming “maternity or pregnancy discrimination”.
Overall the report is critical of ET fees as they are considered punitive which means that many meritorious and genuine tribunal claims have been unable to progress.
Nearly one in six employees in insecure work
According to a recent survey which has been carried out by the charity, Citizens Advice, 4.5 million people within England and Wales are in insecure work i.e. they do not have fixed regular working hours. This is equivalent to 14% of the population. For many people this results in them not being able to plan their future, as well as struggling to plan budgets and pay bills.
The analysis shows that more than 2.3 million people are working variable shift patterns, 1.1 million people are on temporary contracts, and 800,000 people are on a zero-hour or agency contract.
Citizens Advice describes how 83% of people who seek help from the charity are suffering with debt due to their irregular and inconsistent working hours. Furthermore, 87% face delays or problems with within work benefits, including housing benefits, which they ultimately do not receive.
The survey also states that employers have more to gain by offering steady work as eight out of ten people said a steady job, with regular pay, would increase their productivity and 86% said that this would increase their loyalty.
On 14 January 2016, the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) published a report on transgender equality. Contained in this report were thirty recommendations from a broad range of policy areas including the Gender Recognition Act (2004) and the Equality Act (2010). Such recommendations included the streamlining and ‘de-medicalising’ of the gender recognition process, and a look at moving towards ‘non-gendering’ in official records.
Following this, on 7 July 2016 the government published its response, which stated that it does intend to review the Gender Recognition Act (2004) in light of some of the recommendations made. However one suggestion that the government has decided not to adopt is to rename the term ‘Gender Reassignment’ as ‘Gender Identity’ in the Equality Act 2010. And while the government has agreed to take action to address some issues identified in the WECs Report, in respect of others it has committed nothing more than to keep the matters under review.
ICO statement on the implication of Brexit for General Data Protection Regulation
The growing digital economy is no different than any other in terms of the uncertainty following the Brexit vote. Because of this the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a statement confirming that it will hold discussions with government in order to persuade them that the UK’s data protection laws require reform, and that “international consistency around data protection laws and rights is crucial both to businesses and to consumers”.
Although it is too early to speculate on what exactly this reform will consist of and look like, the ICO has been consistent with its stance throughout the referendum that business should continue to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation regardless of Brexit. Businesses and Consumers alike must now wait for these talks to be held in order to gain an insight into the future of Britain’s data protection laws.