Clarification for employers on the payment of paternity leave at a recently WRC hearing
In a case that was heard at the WRC recently where a male employee claimed discrimination on the grounds of gender when his employer did not provide a top up payment when he took his 2 weeks paternity leave but did provide a top up payment of female employees who took maternity leave, the WRC found that employers were not required to provide a top up payment as paternity leave was not comparable to maternity leave.
In reaching this decision, the WRC reviewed both the Irish and European legislation that provided for maternity leave and clarified that it was specifically designed for females on the basis of pregnancy and maternity at this very special time and that paternity leave was a different leave category, therefore employers can have a different term for payment for female employees on that basis.
However, if employers have already introduced company paid paternity leave, this finding does not mean that they can now stop paying male employees as they had already established this policy in advance of this hearing.
It is possible that there may be additional cases relating to this matter and that this matter might well become a topic for debate in the future but for now, the position has been clarified in that maternity leave and paternity leave are viewed differently by the WRC and therefore employers can apply payment terms differently.