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Case Law

Father awarded £28,321.03 for discriminatory pay during shared parental leave

In this case Network Rail conceded that its shared parental pay policy, which paid partners less, indirectly discriminated.

Snell v Network Rail [ET] | 2016

The Facts

Mr Snell and his wife both worked at Network Rail.

Under the shared parental leave policy mothers were entitled to receive, by way of shared parental leave pay, up to:

  • 26 weeks at full pay
  • 13 weeks at the statutory rate and
  • a further 13 weeks unpaid.

Partners were entitled to receive:

  • 39 weeks at the statutory rate and
  • a further 13 weeks unpaid.

Mr Snell raised a grievance which was poorly handled and delayed at every stage.

By the time Mr Snell came to take shared parental leave, Network Rail had changed its policy so that both the mother and partner were entitled to payment at the statutory rate.

He brought a claim alleging direct and indirect discrimination in the levels of pay paid by Network Rail during periods of shared parental leave.

In its defence, Network Rail alleged that the correct comparator for indirect discrimination purposes was not a mother but a female partner.  Network Rail also put forward arguments of objective justification, namely that the difference in pay was in place to recruit and retain women in a male dominated environment.

By the time of the hearing Network Rail had conceded that it had indirectly discriminated against Mr Snell and Mr Snell had withdrawn his claim for direct discrimination.

The Decision

The Scottish employment tribunal awarded Mr Snell:

  • £6,000 injury to feelings
  • £16,129.68 for future loss (the difference between statutory shared parental pay and full pay)
  • £1,753.87 pension loss
  • £2,779.44 uplift for failure to comply with the Acas code
  • £458.04 interest
  • £1,200 employment tribunal fees

Comment

The decision in this case is of limited value as the employment tribunal did not have to decide if Mr Snell had been discriminated against.

This case is also, in our experience, relatively unique in that the difference in pay was within the shared parental leave policy rather than a difference in pay between a mother taking traditional maternity leave and a partner using shared parental leave.

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