Shared parental pay – equal rights for fathers in sex discrimination claim

In Ali v. Capita Customer Management Ltd, the employment tribunal upheld a father’s claim of sex discrimination on the basis that his employer’s policies gave fathers on shared parental leave fewer rights to full pay than mothers on maternity leave.
Under Capita’s family-friendly policies, female employees were entitled to the option of 14 weeks’ full pay on maternity leave, while fathers were entitled to two weeks’ full pay on paternity and shared parental leave. This created particular difficulties for Mr Ali. His wife, who had intended to take maternity leave, suffered from post-natal depression and was advised by her doctors to return to work in order to recover from it.
Mr Ali asked Capita whether he could take leave to look after their child instead. Capita responded that he could take shared parental leave but would only be entitled to statutory pay, not full pay. As a consequence, Mr Ali decided not to take shared parental leave, but took other types of leave instead. His problems were then compounded by a line manager who did not appreciate how to appropriately handle an employee in a sensitive situation such as that of Mr Ali.
The tribunal held that Mr Ali was subjected to direct sex discrimination, since a female comparator in the equivalent situation would have been entitled to full pay. Capita plans to appeal the case to the EAT, referring to other cases where the EAT has supported enhanced payment rights for female employees over male employees while on leave.
As a first instance tribunal decision, this is not binding. We would recommend that employers await some appellant authority on the issue before making any changes to their existing shared parental leave policies.

Victoria Albon

About Victoria Albon

Victoria has experience of advising on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious employment law issues. This includes significant experience of defending a wide range of claims in the employment tribunal, including claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination as well as claims for unlawful deductions of wages, holiday pay and under TUPE. Victoria regularly advises on non-contentious matters including the application of TUPE, handling collective redundancy consultations and changing terms and conditions.

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