A FATHER has been awarded almost £30,000 for sex discrimination after bosses refused to pay him the same as his wife during their shared parental leave.

David Snell and his wife both work for Network Rail and decided to take shared leave to care for their baby who was born in January this year.

However, when they first applied for their leave, they discovered that while Mrs Snell would receive full pay for six months, Mr Snell was only entitled to statutory parental pay of around £140 per week.

He raised a grievance with bosses, but when this was rejected he lodged a claim for sex discrimination at an employment tribunal.

Network Rail eventually conceded that their "Family Friendly Policy" was discriminatory and Employment Judge Frances Eccles awarded the signalling designer a total of £28,321.03.

Judge Eccles said: "By the time of the hearing it was no longer in dispute that Mr Snell was indirectly discriminated against by Network Rail in relation to his sex by the application of their family friendly policy which put the claimant at a particular disadvantage as a man, when compared with women during periods of shared parental leave."

However, instead of increasing the rate of pay for men taking paternal leave, Network Rail has now introduced a new policy reducing women's entitlement to statutory.

The tribunal heard that the original Family Friendly Policy allowed up to 52 weeks to be shared between mothers and their partners.

Mr Snell, of Glasgow, submitted an application in August last year indicating she his wife planned to take 27 weeks' leave and he intended to take 12 weeks thereafter.

At written judgment on the case states: "The claimant was advised that for 12 weeks he would receive the standard statutory rate of shared parental pay applicable at that time (£139.58)."

He was also told he would be opted out of the company pension scheme during his leave.

In late September he submitted a grievance to the firm which stated: "Under this policy, payments to mothers on Shared Parental Leave will be at significantly different rates to fathers. i.e. 26 weeks full pay and 13 weeks statutory compared with 39 weeks statutory for fathers.

"As a result of this I believe I am being discriminated against because of my sex."

His grievance hearing did not take place until November 5 as his line manager had to await advice from the rail firm's HR and legal department.

The complaint was eventually rejected, with Network Rail arguing that they had met their policy met the "legal requirement" as they are only obliged to pay statutory parental pay.

They also claimed that he could only raise a case comparing himself to a female partner of a mother and not a mother.

He appealed the decision, but his appeal, which was also rejected, was not heard until after the birth of the couple's baby.

MrSnell was ill in hospital in the run up to the birth due to high blood pressure and the delay in responding to the grievance caused Mr Snell further stress and anxiety.

The judgment states: "Mr Snell was distracted by Network Rail's failure to respond to his grievance and the level of pay he would receive during shared parental leave.

"He was unable to give his wife his full attention and support while she was ill."