Sex discrimination victory for father seeking maternity pay parity

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An employer was guilty of sex discrimination for not allowing an employee extra paternity leave at full pay, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The claimant, Mr Ali, worked for telecoms firm Capita Customer Management, whom he joined as part of a TUPE transfer from Telefónica in 2013. When his daughter was born prematurely, he took two weeks’ paid paternity leave and two weeks’ annual leave to be with his family.

Afterwards, Mr Ali’s wife was diagnosed with postnatal depression and advised to return to work to aid her recovery. Consequently, Mr Ali sought more time off work to care for his family and was told he would only be eligible for shared parental leave at a statutory rate of pay. However, a female employee who had transferred from Telefónica would have been entitled to 14 weeks’ full pay. This entitlement was part of the Telefónica maternity policy, which transferred to Capita.

Mr Ali claimed direct sex discrimination, arguing that – beyond two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave for new mothers – male employees should be entitled to the same 12 additional weeks of enhanced pay as their female counterparts. The tribunal upheld his complaint.

Currently, there is no legal requirement for employers to enhance shared parental pay if they enhance maternity pay. So far the issue has only been decided at first instance, so none of the rulings set a binding precedent. Reportedly, Capita intends to appeal the decision. If it does, the outcome of that appeal should provide much-needed clarity for employers.

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