Morning Call: the pick of the papers

Ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

Cameron is right about Leveson. This is a Rubicon we must not cross (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins argues against statutory underpinning for press regulation.

 

Carney will gain by exploring the territory (Financial Times)

 

Adam Posen writes that the new Bank of England governor will have to prioritise open debate and public engagement.

 

Nick Boles wants to build on the greenbelt, but it's too soon for us to admire man-made landscapes (Independent)

 

Tom Sutcliffe explores the aesthetics of nature and human development.

 

With Ukip's surge, do we still have a progressive majority? (Guardian

 

John Harris argues that Ukip's strong by-election results indicate widespread distrust of politicians.

 

Mick and Sonny are still rockin' on, but will Madonna and Robbie last as long? (Independent

 

David Lister asks why age expectations are different for musicians in rock, jazz and blues.

 

So what happened to your defence of liberty, Harriet Harman? (Telegraph

 

Dan Hodges argues that Labour's support for Leveson is driven by a desire for political revenge.

 

Keep the kids in Beer St, not Vodka Plaza (Times) (£) 

 

Janice Turner argues that education, not raising alcohol prices, will cut down on binge-drinking.

 

The Chancellor George Osborne's alarming device is just the weapon for a country at war (Telegraph

 

Charles Moore says that Quantitive Easing has prevented the crisis from becoming even deeper.

 

Here's what to do in the Middle East: nothing (Times) (£) 

 

Matthew Parris says Britain should intervene less in overseas conflicts.

 

Morsi has squandered Egypt's goodwill (Financial Times

 

Roula Khalaf and Heba Saleh explain that Egypt's president is no longer a unifying figure.

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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.