Shared Parental Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Parental Leave are all types of Family Leave that are available to working parents. They are complex pieces of legislation that have left many employers unclear as to what the rules are around pay and in particular, where do men and women need to be treated the same.
A recent case put the question of whether fathers should be entitled to the same paternity pay if they want ‘additional paternity’ leave as a woman would receive if they were on maternity leave. Well, why not? We often hear about various types discrimination, race, age, sex (mainly towards women) and others. Why shouldn’t men have the same benefits, especially considering the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) introduced towards the end of 2014? On the face of it, it seems a straight forward conclusion to make – treat every employee equally.
This decision was supported by a recent tribunal case (Mr M Ali v Capita Customer Management) where Mr Ali received two weeks of paid paternity leave but he wanted more to look after his wife and child and wanted this 12 additional weeks to be at full pay, the same as a female employee at the company would receive for maternity leave. His request was denied. He raised with the company that this was direct discrimination where he was advised that he would be entitled to Statutory Paternity Leave but would only receive statutory payment. The tribunal found that it was discriminatory and that Mr Ali should have received the same pay as a female counterpart.
Family Leave Pay
Family leave and family leave pay is now more complex than ever before and this is to reflect the changing world in which we are living. The idea that the mother is always the individual who will take all of the time off to look after a baby is a thing of the past and there is far more shared responsibility within households now. As a result new questions are coming up around how men and women are remunerated during periods of family leave.
It is now quite clear that the rules for maternity and paternity leave should be the same. If you offer enhanced payment during maternity leave then you also need to offer enhanced payment during paternity leave.
What about Shared Parental Leave?
Shared Parental Leave was introduced to allow parents to share the period of maternity leave between the mother and father. We recently had a question around whether a father taking Shared Parental Leave needed to receive the same terms as a mother on Maternity Leave. Given the above you may think that the answer is “yes” but actually it isn’t. Shared Parental Leave is different to Maternity leave. Where you need to be equal is that a male on Shared Parental Leave is treated the same as a woman on Shared Parental Leave.
It’s possible that you continue to be confused about all of the different Family leave that’s now available (Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Parental and Shared Parental Leave) and the easiest way to make sure that both you and your employees are clear is to have policies in place for each type.
If you feel that your policies need a review and update then give us a call on 0203 319 1649 and we’d be happy to chat through the differences and your requirements.