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Father awarded £28,000 in shared parental leave case

Posted: 23rd November 2016   In: Business Employment

A father has been awarded £28,000 because he received a lower rate of pay than his wife during their shared parental leave (SPL).

David Snell and his wife were both employed by Network Rail. The company’s family friendly policy provided an enhanced level of pay for mothers during maternity leave but fathers were limited to the statutory rate.

Mr Snell raised a grievance on the basis that this discriminated against him because of his gender.

Network Rail argued that there was no discrimination because the policy would also apply to the female partner of a mother. It also said that the policy helped to recruit and retain female staff and could therefore be objectively justified.

The case went to the Employment Tribunal but by that time Mr Snell had dropped his claim of direct discrimination because Network Rail had conceded that he had been indirectly discriminated against.

The tribunal therefore only had to assess compensation. It awarded him £28,000 for injury to feelings and future financial loss.

SPL came into effect in April 2015 and allows mothers and fathers to share the 52 weeks of parental leave.

Under the SPL scheme, mothers are still required to take two weeks’ compulsory leave immediately after the birth, but the other 50 weeks can be shared between both parents. The benefits are also available to couples who adopt a child.

Parents can choose whether to take their leave simultaneously or take turns, or a mixture of the two. The leave must be taken in complete weeks.

Parents can take their leave in a continuous period but would have to negotiate with their employer if they wish to take leave in discontinuous periods. The employer doesn’t have to agree to a discontinuous leave period.

To qualify for SPL, a parent must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC). They must also give sufficient notice to their employer.

Please contact Jackie Cuneen for more information about Shared Parental Leave or any aspect of employment law.

Posted by: Jackie Cuneen
Luton Office