Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Britain badly needs an Abraham Lincoln who will think big and act big (Daily Telegraph)

MPs in both the Conservatives and Labour are yearning for a leader who will show courage and imagination, writes Mary Riddell.

2. A perilous journey to full recovery (Financial Times)

The key to success everywhere will be timing the exit from exceptional policies, writes Martin Wolf. 

3. Britain's narrow view of the EU is wrong (Times) (£)

Berlin shares David Cameron’s desire for reform in Brussels but not his vision for Europe, says German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

4. UK intervention in Mali treads a familiar – and doomed – path (Guardian)

Does Mali pose an "existential threat" to the UK? Hardly, says Simon Jenkins. Intervention will bring only more trouble.

5. Hillary Clinton leaves a hard job well done (Independent)

The Secretary of State leaves no signature achievement, but America is safer now than it was, says an Independent editorial. 

6. Murdoch links sympathy for Palestinians to anti-Semitism. The truth is more complex (Independent)

Wishing an end to Palestinian suffering is not synonymous with willing the annihilation of Israel, so why is this distinction so hard to make, asks Matthew Norman. 

7. We'll give parents the confidence they crave from early years education (Guardian)

Nurseries should give children the chance to learn, and women the choice to work if they want to, writes early years minister Elizabeth Truss.

8. Childcare plan: the kids are not all right (Guardian)

The biggest danger posed by the coalition's reforms is that they will create a new class divide at the earliest ages, says a Guardian editorial.

9. India casts around for more outrage (Financial Times)

Taking offence has become a newly powerful type of political power, writes James Crabtree.

10. A continent in chaos and why Hitler's evil is rising again (Daily Mail)

The fact that so many are willing to forget or ignore Hitler’s evil, means that Europe should approach its future with dread, says Simon Heffer.

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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.