Enhanced Maternity Pay – Is This Discriminatory?

Year Published: 2020

In May 2018, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) reported that international professional services company, Capita, paid its female employees enhanced maternity pay – however the same was not offered on the rates of pay for paternity or shared parental leave (SPL). The EAT held that this was not discriminatory, however the case was subsequently sent to the Court of Appeal for further clarification.

Many employers who offer enhanced maternity pay rates often don’t provide enhanced SPL or paternity leave rates. This has caused a debate as to whether or not the disparity could amount to discriminatory behaviour, due to the fact that parents taking SPL are statistically more likely to be male.

The Court of Appeal has now confirmed that it is not discriminatory for employers to enhance maternity pay rates while only offering normal statutory payments to workers on paternity/SPL. It has been ruled that the predominant purpose of maternity leave – even beyond the statutory two weeks – was “not childcare but other matters exclusive to the birth mother resulting from pregnancy and childbirth, and not shared by the husband or partner”.

The court also ruled that there was not an equal pay case to be made as the law allows employers to make exceptions for women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are breastfeeding.

If the court had decided that the action was discriminatory, the outcome would likely be that companies would withdraw their enhanced maternity pay rates as opposed to increase rates for those on paternity/SPL.

Therefore, it is ultimately for employers to decide whether or not to enhance contractual pay to employees on paternity/SPL where enhanced maternity pay is already applied. At present, there is no legal obligation requiring employers to do so.

For further information regarding enhanced maternity pay, please contact Charlie Wood, Associate in our Employment Law and HR team on 0161 475 7673 or email [email protected].

Related Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Your Key Contact:

Share This:

Disclaimer: Our insight & opinion content provides general information and although we endeavor to ensure that the content is accurate and up-to-date, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to its accuracy or completeness and therefore the information should not be relied upon. The content should not be construed as legal or other professional advice and SAS Daniels LLP disclaims liability for any loss, howsoever caused, arising directly or indirectly from reliance on the information on this website. Please seek appropriate legal advice from one of our suitably qualified lawyers if you require assistance.