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In Shuter v Ford Motor Co, Ford’s maternity policy provided women on maternity leave with full pay for up to a year. Its additional paternity leave policy provided for payment of statutory paternity pay.

S took additional paternity leave resulting in him being paid about £18,000 less than a woman would have been paid on maternity leave for the same period. He claimed direct and indirect sex discrimination.

The employment tribunal rejected his claims.

Direct discrimination: S sought to compare himself with a female employee on maternity leave who would have been paid full pay. The tribunal said that the correct comparison was in fact with a woman on additional paternity leave (ie a female spouse or civil partner who can take additional paternity leave). Since they would not be paid full pay either, there was no less favorable treatment and therefore no discrimination. The claim for direct discrimination therefore failed.

Indirect discrimination: Ford accepted that its policy of paying full pay to women on maternity leave beyond 20 weeks after the birth was indirectly discriminatory but argued that it was justified. The Tribunal accepted that Ford had a legitimate reason which was proportionate in the circumstances, because Ford had a predominantly male work force and it was trying to recruit and retain more female employees. The claim for indirect sex discrimination therefore also failed.

Sarah Rushton (

This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information


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