June 3, 2019
No, according to two decisions made by the Court of Appeal at the end of May. The two cases - Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd and Chief Constable of Leicestershire v Hextall – considered whether it was discriminatory to have different rates of pay for mothers on maternity leave and fathers on shared parental leave.
Various claims were made across the two cases including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and equal pay, however, the decision of the Court of Appeal was based on:
- the purpose of maternity leave not being for “childcare but other matters exclusive to the birth mother resulting from pregnancy and childbirth and not shared by the husband or partner”; and
- a specific exclusion contained in the Equality Act 2010 “affording special treatment to women in connection with pregnancy or childbirth”
As such it seems clear that employers can manage maternity leave and pay differently to shared parental leave and pay and not discriminate against male employees.
Permission has been sought to appeal both decisions and so the matter may have to be looked at by the Supreme Court before this issue is finally resolved.