Failure to equalise enhanced shared parental pay ruled discriminatory

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Employers that fail to consider remunerating both parents under ‘enhanced’ shared parental pay (i.e. beyond the statutory amount) may face claims for indirect sex discrimination, following a recent case.

The case involved Network Rail, where a male employee alleged discrimination after discovering that he would not be afforded the same rights to paternal pay as his wife.

While the Government had previously suggested that it would not be discriminatory if women were paid enhanced maternity pay but men and women were only paid the statutory shared parental pay, an earlier case involving Ford Motor Company had already cast doubt over that advice.

Both cases may have significant consequences for similar matters brought up to employment tribunals.

Employers choosing not to equalise enhanced benefits will need a legitimate purpose, such as the advocacy and support for women in a predominantly male-centred workforce. Otherwise, employers may find themselves exposed to a claim based on sex discrimination.