Employment Essentials: June 2017's Top 5

Enhancing family-friendly pay: the baby elephant in the room

Can employers offer enhanced contractual maternity pay to mothers, but only statutory shared parental leave (ShPL) pay to fathers? At what point is maternity leave no longer designed to protect a woman's biological condition following pregnancy, or the special relationship between mother and baby, and instead becomes akin to childcare?

Whether an employer, who fails to match maternity pay enhancements, will face a successful discrimination claim from a man on ShPL has been the baby elephant in the room for some time. This month we had the Employment Tribunal decision in Ali v Capita Customer Management Limited tackling this question. The Tribunal found that disparity in policies offering enhanced contractual maternity leave pay to female employees but only offered statutory ShPL pay did directly discriminate against a male employee.

Employment tribunal decisions are 'non-binding' and as such do not set a precedent that future tribunals must follow. Nevertheless, it may be persuasive and an indication of the direction for such claims in the future. For more on this important decision see Should employers match enhanced maternity pay under Shared Paternal Leave?

Note: Capita Customer Management Ltd are currently seeking leave to appeal this decision. In addition an appeal is also currently pending before the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Hextall v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police. Last year in Hextall, a different employment tribunal found an employer's policy of offering enhanced contractual maternity pay but only statutory ShPL pay was not discriminatory. We will keep you advised of future developments in this evolving area of equality law.

The Queen's Speech: employment law implications

On 21 June 2017, Theresa May's minority government set out its legislative programme for the next parliamentary session. It comes as no surprise that it is dominated by Brexit with the Speech beginning:

"My government's priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union."

From an employment law perspective there is little detail but key points of interest are:

Under new legislative measures:

Immigration. A new Immigration Bill, covering the whole of the UK, will establish a new national policy on immigration, including new powers concerning the immigration status of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. The Bill will end the EU's rules on free movement of EU nationals in the UK and make the migration of EU nationals and their families subject to UK law once Brexit has happened, while still - according to the government - "allowing the UK to attract the brightest and the best". Data protection. A new Data Protection Bill is intended to make the UK's "data protection framework suitable for the digital age allowing citizens to better control their data". It will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), putting the UK in a position to maintain the ability to share data with EU member states after Brexit. Under the non-legislative measures heading:

Taylor Review. The government simply states that The Taylor review on employment...

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