Is refusing fathers enhanced SPL pay discriminatory?

 

We take a look at the new EAT ruling.

When shared parental leave (SPL) came into force in 2014, many employers were concerned of the possibility of discrimination especially if the company had enhanced maternity pay and statutory paternity pay.

Some companies may have enhanced their paternity pay to ensure this was fair however others may not, leaving themselves open to the possibility of indirect discrimination or direct sexual discrimination . However a new EAT (Employment Appeal Tribunal) ruling will now mean you can pay two different rates to mothers and fathers without being discriminative.

The case follows the plight of father, Mr Ali, who wished to take shared parental leave (SPL) so that his wife could go back to work after they had a baby. However, he was not entitled to pay at the higher maternity pay rate for 12 weeks after the two weeks compulsory maternity leave. Instead, he received the rate for shared parental leave.

He claimed this was a case of direct sex discrimination, so he sued his employer Capita Customer Management Ltd – but the tribunal disagreed.

“The reasoning behind the decision is that the purpose of maternity leave and pay is to protect the health and well-being of a woman during pregnancy and following childbirth,” explained Employment Solicitor and Senior Associate, Michelle Morgan from Gardner Leader.

The purpose of SPL, on the other hand, is to care for a child. “The level of pay is inextricably linked to the purpose of the leave,” added Morgan. “The EAT held that the father’s situation was not comparable to a woman on maternity leave – a decision that will be seen as a welcome relief to employers.  “For now at least, employers can breathe a sigh of relief on this front.”

At advo hr we agree with the EAT ruling, however we still believe it’s important for companies to look at how they pay new fathers as there is currently a huge emphasis on equal pay, and more fathers are calling for greater rights and pay to improve equality at work and at home.

 
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