Pregnancy, parental leave and pay

The prohibition of pay discrimination in the Equality Act also concerns treating employees differently regarding pay because of pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood or family responsibilities. When the difference in pay is caused by these factors the salary comparison can also be made between employees of the same gender. The person used for comparison does not always have to be an actual person. In some cases different treatment can be assessed based on how the employer should have acted according to the law or the contract.

The European Court of Justice has stated that an employee who has been temporarily moved to other duties because of pregnancy has the right to her monthly basic salary, as well as components or supplementary allowances relating to her professional status, such as allowances relating to her seniority, her length of service and her professional qualifications.  She cannot however demand compensation and allowances that are paid as compensation for disadvantages caused by carrying out special tasks in particular circumstances if she is not in reality carrying out said tasks. (Case Parviainen C-471/08).

Employers do not have a statutory obligation to pay their employees during family leaves. In many fields the maternity pay is based on collective agreements. In these cases the pay has to take into consideration all raises that the employee received before or during her maternity leave.

An employee who goes on maternity leave after an unpaid family leave cannot be disadvantaged when it comes to her maternity pay compared to employees who went on maternity leave straight from work. If the employee works in a field where salaries are paid out during maternity leave, those who go on maternity leave after an unpaid family leave are also entitled to this pay.

The position taken in case-law has been that maternity leave cannot reduce bonuses that are paid as a reward for the work during the past year. An employee on parental leave has the right to at least a share of such a bonus which is proportional to their time at work. (Case Lewen C-333/97).