A Glasgow employment tribunal has ordered Network Rail to pay almost £30,000 to a male employee for sex discrimination claim following a dispute over shared parental pay.
The Facts: Mr Snell and his wife were both employed by Network Rail and decided to take shared parental leave to care for their child. When they applied for their leave they realised that Mrs Snell would be entitled to receive full pay for the first 26 weeks of her maternity leave whereas Mr Snell in comparison would only be entitled to receive statutory parental pay of £139.58 per week.
Mr Snell raised a grievance which argued that: “Under this policy, payments to mothers on shared parental leave will be significantly different to fathers…As a result of this, I believe I am being discriminated against because of my sex.”
Network Rail did not uphold Mr Snell’s grievance on the basis that they believed they had met with their legal obligations, which only required them to pay statutory parental pay.
Mr Snell pursued his complaints at the Glasgow employment tribunal and was awarded £28,321.03. Judge Frances Eccles commented that “By the time of the hearing, it was no longer in dispute that Mr Snell was indirectly discriminated against by Network Rail in relation to his sex by the application of their family friendly policy. The policy put the claimant at a particular disadvantage as a man when compared with women during periods of shared parental leave.
Network Rail has since altered its policy to reduce women’s maternity pay entitlement to statutory payment only in order to ensure fairness, which is clearly a loss for its’ female employees.
This case makes for interesting reading as there has been very little case law (since the shared parental leave scheme was introduced in April 2015) to test the potential for male employees to bring claims for sex discrimination where companies offer enhanced packages for women on maternity leave.
If you are concerned by any of the issues raised in this article or would like more advice on shared parental leave then please contact us.