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Father wins sex discrimination claim for employer's failure to enhance shared parental pay

View profile for James Champness

An employment tribunal has upheld a claim of direct sex discrimination brought by a male employee after his employer told him that he would be paid full pay for two weeks’ paternity leave, but would only receive the statutory minimum for the remainder of his time on shared parental leave.

Mr Ali was an employee of Capita Customer Management Limited.  Under Capita’s maternity policy, female employees taking maternity leave are entitled to enhanced maternity pay for up to 14 weeks, while new fathers are entitled to two weeks on full pay during their paternity leave.  Additional shared parental pay for male employees is statutory pay only once the initial two weeks of paternity pay have been exhausted.

Mr Ali accepted that two weeks’ maternity leave is compulsory for new mothers,  and in any event he had suffered no comparative disadvantage during this time.  However he argued that Capita’s refusal (for the next 12 weeks) to give male employees the same right to enhanced pay as female employees meant that male employees were effectively discouraged from taking time off to care for their children.

The employment tribunal agreed, and upheld Mr Ali’s sex discrimination complaint.

It is anticipated that the decision will be appealed, and so HR practitioners are likely to follow its progress with interest in order to gain guidance as their own procedures relating to shared parental pay.  Case law on this new area remains very limited, and is thought to be only the third case on the enhancement of shared parental pay.  At present, there is still no legislation or binding case law which requires employers to enhance shared parental pay to match any enhancements to maternity pay.  Developments delivering clarity in this area will be welcomed.