An Employment Tribunal has considered, for the first time, whether different parental leave policies for men and women can be discriminatory. The case will be of persuasive guidance to other Tribunals.

In the case of Snell v Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, the employer paid enhanced parental leave to women but only statutory parental leave to men.

A father argued that the employer’s policy directly discriminated against men. Both he and his wife worked for the employer and they had agreed that she would take 27 weeks off work and he would take 12 weeks. However, the policy provided that his wife would receive full pay (for up to 6 months), whilst he would only receive statutory pay of £139.58 a week.

The employer originally tried to defend the claim by stating that the policy could be objectively justified as a proportionate means of recruiting and retaining women in a male dominated workforce. They also stated that they had met their legal obligation by paying statutory pay.

However, by the time the case reached the Employment Tribunal, the employer admitted liability.

The Employment Tribunal awarded the Claimant approximately £23,000, including £6,000 injury to feelings and £16,129 being the difference between statutory shared parental leave pay and what the Claimant would have received had he been entitled to the enhanced pay.


  • Since Shared Parental Leave was introduced in April 2015 reports suggest that very few fathers have taken up the opportunity. This case provides a warning to employers to check that their existing policies do not discriminate against men as rights are expanded.

For further information on this or any other employment issues please contact us on 0333 006 2929 or email

This article has been drafted on ESP’s behalf by Ward Hadaway Law Firm. Ward Hadaway Law Firm are one of ESP’s strategic legal advisory partners and provide certain services to our customer through a range of different Legal and HR support services offered by ourselves to the Corporate market.

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and it should not be relied upon. Specific legal advice may be required to address your specific circumstance.


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