The Issue

Discrimination against women who take maternity leave is a well-known issue. But with the introduction of shared parental leave in 2015, a new issue has arisen. Throughout the country, people are debating whether employers should be required to enhance shared parental pay if they enhance maternity pay or if that decision should remain at the discretion of the individual employer as it is now.

Cases

The first case of this kind to come in front of a UK court was Hextall v The Chief Constable of Leicester Police in 2016, in which the claim failed due to a decision which stated that shared parental pay should be fixed at the statutory, and not the enhanced, rate for police officers. However, police officer employment rules differ in several ways from regular employment laws, which is why the second case on this issue had such a different result…

In the recent case of Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd, Mr Ali issued a claim of gender discrimination as his employer offered enhanced maternity pay for up to 14 weeks but only offered the statutory shared parental pay. Mr Ali’s argument was that, while there is a two week compulsory maternity leave for all new mothers, any employee should be entitled to the same opportunity to be the primary carer, and should be paid at the same rate, whether they are male or female.

His claim was upheld, but as it’s the first successful claim of this kind, it’s not binding. Capita is reported to be appealing the decision so we’ll have to wait for the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision on the case before we can be certain of where this new issue is heading.

Summary

Soon we may find it becoming compulsory for employers to maintain both maternity leave and shared parental leave at the same pay rate but we can’t predict anything until we see the outcome of Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd in the Employment Appeal Tribunal later this year.

In the meantime, if you’re an employee looking to take shared parental leave, be sure to check your company policy to see if you’ll earn as much as someone taking maternity leave. If you’re an employer offering different rates for maternity pay and shared parental pay then take the opportunity to get in touch with one of us at Hedges (roy.magara@hedgeslaw.co.uk / Prisca.bradley@hedgeslaw.co.uk ).


**This article has been written by one of our essay writing competition winners and interns, Georgie**