In a recent Employment Law Tribunal Case, David Snell was awarded over £28,000 as compensation in a sex discrimination claim.
David Snell and his wife are both employed by Network Rail and when their first child was born they wanted to take advantage of Shared Parental Leave, which allows them to split the requisite parental leave between them both.
Mrs Snell planned to take 27 weeks leave and Mr Snell 12 weeks. However, he was advised he was only entitled to the statutory parental pay of £139.58 per week (which was available for up to 39 weeks) even though his wife would be on full pay for 26 of the 27 weeks she was on leave.
Mr Snell objected and raised a grievance based on his gender, which he felt was the reason he was being discriminated against. His view was that the company’s shared parental leave policy should not be different in terms of its pay structure for mothers and fathers.
His employer rejected the claim and stated that they had met the ‘legal requirement’ and was only obliged to pay the statutory parental pay.
The case was taken to Employment Tribunal and following the challenge, Network Rail admitted its policy was discriminatory. They have since amended this to reduce women’s maternity leave entitlement to statutory payment to ‘ensure fairness’.
Kim says “when Shared Parental Leave was first introduced, it was unclear how it would work in practice, or if indeed fathers would take advantage of the policy. This case has shown that it is important to ensure your policies are clear, up to date and are not discriminatory. It is interesting that in this particular case, Network Rail chose to reduce the payments to ensure fairness as opposed to increasing for both parties. Businesses facing this dilemma have to consider the financial viability which may therefore reduce benefits to some rather than increase them”.
For guidance or assistance with requests for Shared Parental Leave or with checking of policies, contact Kim or Kerry at HaytonHeyes on 01925 758702 or email firstname.lastname@example.org