If an employer pays enhanced maternity pay for the first 14 weeks of leave, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed it is not sex discrimination to pay statutory pay, rather than enhanced pay to a male employee taking shared parental leave.
Parents can choose to take shared parental leave to care for a child. A mother ends her maternity leave to take shared parental leave.
Maternity leave protects the well being of mothers during the first 14 weeks after birth, whereas shared parental leave focuses on the care of the child.
Employers can match the rates of pay if they wish to, but as the purposes for maternity leave and shared parental leave during the first 14 weeks are different, they do not have to do so.
If the terms and pay are the same for both sexes taking shared parental leave, there is no discrimination if the pay is different to maternity pay.
If enhanced maternity pay is paid after 14 weeks, employers may wish to review their policies as the purposes of maternity leave could be found to have changed after this initial period giving rise to a claim for discrimination.