A recent employment tribunal found that a UK firm acted contrary to current legislation on parental leave and denied rights to one of its employees. For businesses it’s another reminder of the importance of making provision for changes in the law, practicing good workforce management and the rise of flexible work arrangements.

Working father asserts rights against employer

In June a new father won a sex discrimination claim against his employer, Capita, for denying him full paternity rights. While women are entitled to 14 weeks on full pay, he was told he would get only two weeks paternity leave on full pay.

Call centre worker, Madasar Ali, wanted to take-over care of his new baby daughter after his wife was advised to return to work to alleviate her post-natal depression. While Mr Ali was able to take paternity leave for two weeks on full pay following the birth of his child, when he tried to access shared parental leave, he was told he would only be entitled to shared parental leave on statutory pay.

Landmark case to set precedent for business

In Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd., an employment tribunal upheld the worker’s complaint because it found the employer’s decision was contrary to the Equality Act and against the spirit of new parental leave rules which came into effect in April 2015 – these new rules allowed parents to share between them up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. The Tribunal believed that Mr Ali did not receive full pay because of his sex. While the Tribunal sets a precedent its decision is not binding on other cases.

Update: The EAT has recently overturned the earlier ruling after an intervention by the Working Families charity – read more on the HR Magazine website

Should businesses be concerned about the outcome of this case and what do they need to do?

  • Be informed – for employers the case demonstrates the need to stay on top of employment law and to apply them in the spirit in which they were intended. Read informative sources to keep up to date and ensure your HR staff plan ahead to implement new legislation – it all adds up to good workforce management.
  • Plan ahead on policy – when new employment legislation is announced businesses should decide how they will respond and put in place the necessary procedures. On Paternity/Maternity and Shared Parental Leave, the tribunal ruling means that employers will have to decide how they will approach requests for enhanced pay and apply this consistently.
  • Be fair – it’s a fact that childcare is increasingly being shared between both parents. It makes sense then to pay any enhanced amount on offer from the company to whichever parent wishes to take the leave. Being fair to employees increases employee engagement meaning that you will hang on to trained staff and reduce staff turnover. In the case of requests from employees for absence or leave, automated systems will decrease the likelihood of communications being lost or overlooked.
  • Flexible working – the new shared parental leave laws are a sign of increased recognition of the need for flexible working arrangements, in this case, for working parents. Alongside, managing variable patterns of working, remote workers and multi-sites, businesses need to ensure their HR and payroll systems are geared up for dealing with increased complexity. An automated time and attendance system is an efficient way of tracking hours worked and ensuring staff are paid correctly. In addition, data calculated by the automated system will help you stay on top of recovering statutory parental payments.

It’s still early days with regard to shared parental leave and generally the take-up is not expected to be high. However what employers can expect on the family front is more fathers wanting to reduce or change their hours when their child is older to allow the mother to return to work.

The Chronologic Workforce Management System offers a simpler way of managing your workforce. You can use its many features – e.g. holiday and absence management, rota and shift planning – to make sure the work is covered and that your employees can take advantage of flexible working such as parental leave.

For more information about our solutions and products call 01761 410015 or email hello@chronologic.co.uk