When people hear about a sex discrimination case being heard in an employment tribunal, the usual assumption is that it will involve a female employee who has received some form of less favourable treatment on the grounds of her gender.
However, it’s not just women who can be the victims of sex discrimination, as demonstrated in a case that has recently been widely reported in the media.
The case in question concerned the right to enhanced parental leave and pay and was brought by Mr Ali against his employer, Capita, reports Personnel Today.
Mr Ali and his wife had recently had a baby. His wife suffered from post-natal depression and her doctor advised that her recovery might be assisted by returning to work. The couple therefore agreed that Mr Ali would stay at home to look after the baby while his wife returned to work.
Under the company’s maternity policy, women’s maternity entitlements included 14 weeks leave with enhanced pay followed by 25 weeks at statutory pay. Fathers were entitled to two weeks paternity leave at full pay. Mr Ali was told he was also entitled to shared parental leave but that this would be paid at a statutory rate only.
Claim of Sex Discrimination
Mr Ali went to an employment tribunal claiming direct sex discrimination. He argued that fathers should be entitled to the same period of enhanced pay as mothers, and that failing to provide this took the choice away from parents about who should stay home to look after a new-born baby.
According to PersonnelToday, the tribunal accepted Mr Ali’s argument that parents should be able to decide themselves who is best placed to take on the role of primary carer for their baby during its first few months, and upheld his sex discrimination complaint.
In the published reserved judgment, Employment judge Rogerson stated:
“In 2016, men are being encouraged to play a greater role in caring for their babies. Whether that happens in practice is a matter of choice for the parents depending on their personal circumstances but the choice made should be free of generalised assumptions that the mother is always best placed to undertake that role and should get the full pay because of that assumed exclusivity.
“In these particular circumstances the Claimant as the father was best placed to perform that role given his wife’s postnatal depression.”
Shared Parental Leave
The tribunal also believed the company’s policy was contrary to the shared parental leave rules that were introduced in 2015, the Telegraph reports.
Under the shared parental leave scheme, fathers who meet the necessary eligibility criteria can share up to 37 weeks’ pay and up to 50 weeks of leave with the child’s mother in the first year of their baby’s life.
The scheme, which came into effect in April 2015, was introduced to allow mothers to return to work earlier and allow fathers to stay at home and bond more with their baby, should couples wish to do so.
A further hearing will take place to decide on the amount of compensation Mr Ali should receive, however Capita has announced that it intends to appeal against the tribunal decision.
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