sex discrimination

An Employment Tribunal in Glasgow has found that David Snell was unlawfully discriminated against by Network Rail when he took parental leave to look after his baby. Both Mr Snell and his wife work for the company, and they took shared parental leave. However, whilst the mother was entitled to full pay for up to six months under the company’s policy, Mr Snell only received statutory pay of just under £140 per week. The policy was found to be discriminatory, because it placed Mr Snell (as a man) at a disadvantage when compared to his wife (and other female employees).

It is not often the case the a man is found to have suffered discrimination, so this case will be a wake up call to employers. Often employers will want to provide pay over and above the statutory rates for new mothers. However, it is very unusual for men to be given the same benefit when they take leave to look after their new baby or child who they have adopted. This is also a slightly unusual case, in that the rules on shared parental leave, where both parents can share the leave for the first year after birth or adoption, are relatively recent. Therefore, in light of this case it is essential for employers to review their policies on shared parental leave and ensure there is no risk of discrimination.

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