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A new father has won his discrimination claim against his employer for not allowing him to take his full paternity leave entitlement. The landmark case centres on shared parental leave rights introduced two years ago. Under the laws, which came into effect in April 2015, couples can divide their maternity leave entitlement between them. This enables parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay.

However, despite these laws, call centre worker Madasar Ali was denied the right to the shared leave by his employer, Capita. He wanted the time off to look after his baby daughter as his wife was unwell. His employer Capita, told him that after two weeks, his pay would drop to just the statutory minimum. However, women at the firm in a similar role, received 14 weeks on full pay.

Breach of Equality Act

Capita claimed that as Mr Ali was a man, he did not qualify for maternity leave because he couldn’t give birth. But the tribunal ruled that Capita had breached the Equality Act 2010 and gone against parental leave rules.

The firm attempted to refer to European work directives in its defence, however the tribunal determined that Mr Ali had been denied the benefit and prevented from taking the leave. It also concluded that the firm had treated him less favourably due to his gender. It also added that either parent can perform the role of caring for their baby, regardless of their gender.

Victimisation claims

The tribunal also upheld a number of victimisation claims against Capita. These concerned the way the firm had dealt with Mr Ali’s request. The claims relate to the firm changing Mr Ali’s job role without justification. The firm also coerced him into signing gagging documents preventing him from discussing the tribunal. Furthermore, Mr Ali claimed his employer threatened him with disciplinary action if he took leave to look after his child. The tribunal also heard that Capita had made it a needlessly long and drawn out complaint process for Mr Ali.

There is no date set for the hearing to determine compensation. Capita say they intend to appeal against the judgement.

An article by HR Solutions, providers of practical HR advice