Dads urged to consider Shared Parental Leave

The government has urged expectant fathers to consider sharing their partner’s maternity leave.Eligible dads can now share up to 39 weeks’ pay and up to 52 weeks of leave with the child’s mother in the first year of their baby’s life.

The scheme, which started last April, gives mums the opportunity to return to work earlier if they wish. Parents can take up to 6 months off work at the same time or alternatively stagger their leave and pay so that one of them is always at home with their child. This gives dads and partners an opportunity to bond with their new-born and many dads and partners will also qualify for statutory pay.

How it works

Parents must meet the eligibility criteria in order to take advantage of Shared Parental Leave and pay. Those eligible can take: * any weeks of Maternity Leave that the mother does not intend to use as up to 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave * any weeks of Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance that the mother does not intend to use as up to 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay

Parents can decide how best they split up leave, and whether to take it all at once or in blocks. The scheme allows parents to book up to 3 separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave instead of taking it all in one go.

Eligibility

To qualify for Shared Parental Leave and Pay, an employee must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the ‘qualifying week’. To qualify for pay they must additionally have earned at least the lower earnings level (currently £112 a week) in an 8 week test period.

The other parent must be employed or a self-employed earner who has worked for 26 weeks and earned £30 on average in any 13 of those weeks in the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due. The same principles apply to adopters and in the case of joint adoptions, the other parent can qualify for Shared Parental Leave and Pay where the parent that qualifies for Adoption Leave and Pay doesn’t intend to take their full leave and pay entitlement.

Shared Parental Leave is also available to new adoptive parents.

To find out if you are eligible for Shared Parental Leave and Pay and to work out your entitlement, see Calculate your leave and pay when you have a child.

EU says company ban on wearing headscarves may be admissible

The European Union’s top lawyer says employers can stop workers wearing headscarves in certain circumstances.

If the ban is based on a general company rule which prohibits political, philosophical and religious symbols from being worn visibly in the workplace,then it may be justified if it enables the employer to pursue the legitimate policy of ensuring religious and ideological neutrality.

The case involved Samira Achbita, who is of Muslim faith, who worked as a receptionist for the Belgian company G4S Secure Solutions, which is an undertaking that provides security and guarding services as well as reception services.

After having worked for three years for the company she insisted that she should be allowed to go to work in future wearing an Islamic headscarf. She was dismissed as a result, since G4S prohibits the wearing of any visible religious, political and philosophical symbols.

Supported by the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities and Combating Racism, she brought an action before the Belgian courts seeking damages from G4S. Her action was unsuccessful before the first two tiers of courts. The Belgian Court of Cassation, before which the case is now pending, has made a request to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling seeking clarification of the prohibition under EU law of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

In today’s Opinion, Advocate General Juliane Kokott takes the view that there is no direct discrimination on the ground of religion where an employee of Muslim faith is banned from wearing an Islamic headscarf in the workplace, provided that that ban is founded on a general company rule prohibiting visible political, philosophical and religious symbols in the workplace and not on stereotypes or prejudices against one or more particular religions or against religious beliefs in general. If that is the case, there is no less favourable treatment based on religion.

That ban may constitute indirect discrimination based on religion,2 but may, however,3 be justified in order to enforce a legitimate4 policy of religious and ideological neutrality pursued by the employer in the company concerned, in so far as the principle of proportionality is observed in that regard.

Footballer in race discrimination case awarded £68,000 compensation

A black footballer who claimed he was racially discriminated against by his club has been awarded £68,000 compensation.

Mark McCannon

Mark McCannon

Mark McCannon took legal action against his former club, Gillingham, claiming that they had put him “through hell” due to racism in the workplace.

The court heard that he and his black team mates had been treated differently to the white players in the squad. Mr McCannon said he didn’t receive private treatment when he was injured. He was told he could have an operation on the NHS, which was “out of character” for the club.

Read more ...

Gay barman wins Employment Tribunal

A barman who was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation has won his claim against his employer at an employment tribunal.

He worked at a bar that had regularly been used by gay customers, but the owners decided they wanted to reinvent the bar as a gastro pub to attract a wider customer base.

Read more ...

Christian doctor sacked after emailing a prayer to colleagues

A doctor has lost his unfair dismissal claim after he was sacked for emailing a prayer to his colleagues.

An Employment Tribunal heard that the Christian doctor was made to feel like a ‘religious maniac’ when he sent the prayer to his co-workers in an attempt to motivate his department. He sent other emails containing other quotes from the bible and various poems.

Read more ...