Two recent cases, taken to the Court of Appeal, may go some way to provide reassurance to employers who adopt different approaches to maternity and shared parental pay.
The cases of Ali v Capital Customer Management Ltd and Chief Constable of Leicestershire v Hextall both considered whether it was discrimination not to pay full salary to a father taking shared parental leave. The claim arose as, in both cases, mothers were entitled to full pay for 14 weeks and 18 weeks respectively, whereas the father taking shared parental pay was only entitled to the statutory amounts.
It was accepted that the first two weeks of maternity leave are compulsory and associated with the mother’s recovery after childbirth. It is therefore unique to the mother. The Court of Appeal additionally decided that a father could not compare himself with a woman on maternity leave, because the purpose of his leave was different to that of the mother. Maternity leave is used for the health and wellbeing of the mother, whereas the purpose of shared parental leave is to aid with the childcare.
The case reassures employers that they may take different approaches to maternity pay and shared parental pay, without the unnecessary risk of a discrimination or equal pay claim.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.