Tribunal win for father denied full pay during Shared Parental Leave

 

The Claimant and his wife both worked for Network Rail and had opted to take advantage of the Shared Parental Leave scheme (‘SPL’) which allows parental leave to be divided between both parents.

Under Network Rail’s SPL policy, the Claimant’s wife was entitled to 26 weeks’ enhanced pay during SPL, whereas the Claimant was entitled to only statutory pay (£139.58 per week).

The Claimant raised a grievance submitting that the policy adopted by Network Rail was unfair and he had been subjected to indirect sex discrimination. In response to the Claimant’s grievance Network Rail stated that they had met the legal requirements and were only obliged to pay statutory parental pay. The Claimant took his claim to the employment tribunal claiming indirect sex discrimination.

The Tribunal found that the Claimant had been indirectly discriminated against because of his sex. He was awarded £28,321.03 in compensation. Network Rail admitted that its Family Friendly Policy was discriminatory and following the tribunal case, they have reportedly reduced maternity leave entitlement to statutory payment levels “to ensure fairness”.

The SPL rules are complicated and have caused difficulties for employers. It is good practice to have a dedicated SPL policy so the rules are clear to all. This case also shows that where an employer offers enhanced maternity rights, it should think carefully about how they should be reflected in its SPL policy.

Dom Bonham