Dad successfully claims direct discrimination over shared parental leave

In this case, the claimant wanted to take SPL after his wife was diagnosed with post-natal depression and was advised by her GP to return to work. Her employer paid enhanced maternity pay for the first 14 weeks of leave and enhanced paternity pay for two weeks, followed by statutory Shared Parental Pay. The claimant asked to be paid the same higher rate as a woman on maternity leave. After his request was rejected, he issued proceedings claiming discrimination.

The tribunal ruled that the claimant could compare himself to a female employee who was taking leave to care for her child, although this would not apply until after the two-week compulsory maternity leave period and commented: “In 2016, men are being encouraged to play a greater role in caring for their babies. Whether that happens in practice is a matter of choice for the parents depending on their personal circumstances but the choice made should be free of generalised assumptions that the mother is always best placed to undertake that role and should get the full pay because of that assumed exclusivity.”

So what does this mean for employers?

It seems likely that the case will be appealed and therefore employers may need to keep an eye on future findings but in the meantime, if a request does arise from a man asking for an enhanced level of pay to match maternity pay, employers should consider individual circumstances and take advice.

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