A Scottish Employment Tribunal awarded just over £28,000 to a father who brought a sex discrimination claim alleging that his employer's shared parental leave policy was discriminatory.
The case does not appear to have been formally reported as yet so some detail is lacking but it seems that the employer offered 26 weeks of full pay to mothers taking shared parental leave but only statutory pay (currently £139.58 per week) to fathers/partners who took shared parental leave. Also, it is noteworthy that the employer appears to have conceded the claim before the case was heard by the Tribunal so their earlier argument that the difference in treatment was justified was not tested.
Despite the sketchy details, there are some important points to note:
- Men and women should be treated equally in terms of what is offered under the employer's shared parental leave policy - otherwise there could be sex discrimination claims; and
- The issue of whether it is discriminatory to offer enhanced maternity pay to mothers but the same shared parental leave pay to all parents was not considered by this case.
Employers may wish to review, and possibly revise, their family leave policies in light of this recent decision. In case you are wondering, the employer in this case changed their policy so now both mothers and fathers/partners get the same level of pay when they go on shared parental leave (albeit only statutory pay is now given to all, meaning mothers are worse off as a result).
In Snell v Network Rail, a father has been awarded almost £30,000 in a sex discrimination case after his employer refused to pay him the same as his wife while on shared parental leave. Mr Snell and his wife, who both worked for the rail company, opted to share their leave when she gave birth to their baby in January this year. His application indicated that his wife would take 27 weeks’ leave and he would take 12 weeks after that. But while Mrs Snell would receive full pay for her six months’ leave, Mr Snell was told he was only entitled to statutory parental pay of £139.58 for this period. Mr Snell lodged an indirect sex discrimination claim with an employment tribunal. His claim was successful and he was awarded £28,321.