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Shared Parental Leave: The True Cost of Bonding With Your Baby

A landmark ruling around discriminatory parental leave payments has raised the issue of how employers are treating dads differently from mums and don’t have clear policies in place.

Madasar Ali wanted to take advantage of Shared Parental Leave after his son/daughter was born but was offered only a fortnight’s full pay by his employer Capita, despite women on maternity leave being entitled to 14 weeks’ pay.

Mr Ali, a call centre worker from Leeds, successfully argued that he was ‘deterred from taking the leave and was less favourably treated as a man.’

What this case highlights is that while many companies offer enhanced maternity pay for women, they are under no express obligation for new dads. 

Many employers offer male employees who wish to take extended leave the same deal that Mr Ali was offered, something that is likely to be seen an unfair and discriminatory and is certainly not in line with how the Government saw this policy working when they rolled it out.

Anyone can challenge their employer if they believe they are being treated in a discriminatory way like Mr Ali was – and indeed after this case we may well see more of its kind.  

What to do if you think you’re being discriminated against

  1. Raise the issue informally with your employer explaining that you think you are being treated unfairly.

    Employers are obliged to set non-discriminatory policies which do not disadvantage one employee over another based on protected characteristics such as their gender, religion or sexuality. With any luck they will amend their policy so that under shared parental leave you get the same enhanced payments offered for maternity leave. 
  1. Raise a grievance formally.

    This involves notifying your employer of your concerns in writing. From there, they should hold a meeting to discuss the grievance, in accordance with the ACAS code of practice, where they will decide on an appropriate action.

    After your grievance hearing your employer will inform you of their decision in writing and if the proposed action (or lack of action) does not resolve the problem you have the right to appeal. 
  1. If raising a grievance doesn’t work then you could consider making an indirect sex discrimination

    In order to bring such a claim to the employment tribunal you must do so within three months less a day of when the unfair pay begins. The fact that you have raised a formal grievance should assist with the claim.

If you need legal assistance in challenging your employers shared parental leave policy the sex discrimination solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.

Kim Findlow is an employment legal executive at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.

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