Men looking to share more time caring for a new baby will take heart from the recent Employment Tribunal decision in the case of Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd ET/1800990/16.

In this case Mr Ali’s wife was suffering from postnatal depression. Mrs Ali was advised to return to work. Mr Ali, who had taken his 2 weeks’ paid paternity leave plus some holiday on top, wanted to take further paid time off to look after his baby. Mr Ali worked for Capita but had transferred under TUPE from Telefonica. Female employees transferring from Telefonica were entitled to enhanced maternity pay which was not available to men. The Employment Tribunal decided this was direct sex discrimination.

The decision of the Tribunal appears to be based on the idea that with the exception of compulsory maternity leave – the 2 week period immediately after birth when it is illegal for a woman to work -men and women are (or should be) in the same boat when it comes to caring for a new baby. Often whether men take on a greater role is a decision between parents but as a society we want men to be more active and there should not be an assumption – backed up by pay for women but not men – that the mother will be doing the lion’s share.

It should be pointed out that the above decision contrasts with another Employment Tribunal case (Hextall v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police ET/2601223/15) in this area which suggests that it is wrong to compare maternity leave with shared parental leave as there are some important differences. Both cases are likely to be appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal so watch this space for further developments.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Employment team for a free and confidential discussion on 01924 387 110.

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