In the news: Backdated maternity pay

The Story
Mum’s pay win opens floodgatesthe story
Bosses could be faced with a flood of backdated maternity pay claims following a nine-year court battle.

Michelle Alabaster, a former administrator at the Woolwich Building Society, was awarded a 12.9% pay rise before taking maternity leave. However, her maternity pay did not include this rise.

Last month, the Court of Appeal agreed that the Woolwich, now owned by Barclays Bank, had broken European sex discrimination law and Alabaster should have been paid the new amount. As a result Alabaster, who used the legal expenses cover from her insurance policy with the Woolwich to launch the case, was awarded £204.53 and £65.86.

The Response:
Further claims from female employees are expected to be brought in the near future with some backdated payments chased to 1976, when the European Equal Pay Directive was introduced.

The Maternity Alliance’s head of policy Ruba Sivagnanam said that this would affect women who want to challenge decisions to exclude them from pay rises, as well as employers taking this into account when it came to salary reviews.

Julie Mellor, outgoing chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, added that this case demonstrated a need for Britain to overhaul its equal pay legislation.

The Department for Work and Pensions has, as a result of this ruling, changed legislation to force organisations to take pay rises into account when determining maternity pay, with effect from April 2005.