Dad scores victory for equal paternity pay

Father paternity employment law equality

Dad wanted equality with mums

A father won his discrimination claim demanding equal pay for paternity leave with mothers who took maternity leave.

In the employment tribunal, in the case of Mr Ali v Capita Customer Management Limited 2017, the judge ruled the father was entitled to the same rate of enhanced paternity pay as mothers on enhanced maternity pay.

Mr Ali alleged direct sex discrimination because his employer treated him less favourably than female employees. Capita gave mothers enhanced pay for 14 weeks of maternity leave but fathers received only statutory pay. Mr Ali wanted to take care of his new born baby, when his wife became unwell.

Since 2003, under section 80A-E, now incorporated into the Employment Rights Act 1996, fathers of new born babies are entitled to take paternity leave of two weeks. Evidence suggests there has been a mixed take up of this benefit, perhaps because the statutory entitlement to pay is only statutory paternity pay – equal to statutory maternity pay.

Additional benefits, additional costs

This case centred on the additional benefit provided to women after child birth, namely, enhanced company maternity pay after the two weeks. Here the employer also offered leave to the partner of the woman who had given birth but only paid statutory paternity pay and not enhanced company pay. Mr Ali claimed this was discrimination, as he needed to care for his ill wife and new baby.

He argued that there was an unfair assumption that a man caring for his baby was not entitled to the same pay as a woman. He said this took away choice that he and his wife could make about who looked after the baby.

Paying for paternity

The tribunal said that the employer’s policies meant that men and women who took leave to care for their new born babies were not treated equally in relation to pay. But, the tribunal also held that less favourable treatment did not apply to the first two weeks of maternity leave that was compulsory for mothers. Indeed, Mr Ali received his full pay during the first two weeks of his paternity leave. His complaint was about the rest of the paternity leave.

The lesson for employers is that they should review their maternity and paternity leave policies so that employees receive the same benefits.

For further information about maternity and paternity leave please contact Sharma Solicitors 0345 430 0145.

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