Well…what a difference a week makes! Last week, although a bit eventful for me, felt somewhat freeing. Seeing all the businesses re-opening, feeling the buzz of people being able to venture out for a pub lunch and even the weather seemed to perk up, as if it knew what a momentous week it would be for most.
As well as these changes, which were very much needed. There was also a recent decision made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that will most definitely provide some further clarity to employers when it comes to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and where the line is drawn.
In this particular case a male employee was not happy because he was being paid a lower rate on SPL, compared to that of a female employee on Adoption Leave. The male employee tried to argue that this amounted to sex discrimination.
After the Employment Tribunal dismissed the male employee’s claim, he then also appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The EAT considered the underlying purpose of adoption leave and drew a number of differences between it and SPL, which amounted to ‘material differences’ for the purposes of establishing a comparator group under the Equality Act 2010. This meant that the male employee’s appeal was dismissed.
Now although the EAT’s decision may not be surprising, it will certainly be welcomed by many employers. This decision provides a degree of certainty as to how the way employers pay SPL will be interpretated by tribunals. Employers, however, should be mindful of whether such a policy aligns with their company values and culture. It may for example, not be desirable to have a policy that financially discourages fathers from taking on the primary carer role. Employers could therefore instead have a policy that is flexible and supports the modern family of today.
Employers should take this moment to ensure their policies are up to date and are wholly encompassing of the values and culture they wish to promote to their employees.