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Direct Sex Discrimination

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Was it direct sex discrimination for the City of London Police not to pay a police officer on maternity leave her 'London Allowance'?

Yes, held the EAT in City of London Police v Geldart, dismissing the force's appeal.

The Claimant was entitled to a 'London Allowance' payable to serving police officers in the City of London (and Metropolitan) forces. This non-pensionable allowance arises under Part 6 of The Police Regulations 2003. It is distinct from salary and 'London Weighting', covered by Part 4 of those regulations. The London Allowance stopped when her maternity pay ceased during maternity leave. The Claimant won a sex discrimination claim at the tribunal.

The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision. Nothing in the Police Regulations stopped the London Allowance being payable during maternity leave (unlike certain allowances to cover expenses incurred when performing duties), the allowance was also payable when an officer was suspended from duty. Failing to pay the London Allowance was an act of direct sex discrimination. The case was originally brought as discrimination on pregnancy/maternity grounds as well as sex. The Claimant did not have to prove that the force would have treated a male comparator differently (e.g. a male officer on long-term sick), the principles in Webb v EMO Air Cargo (a detriment on account of pregnancy/maternity is sex discrimination with no comparator needed) applied under the Equality Act.

The EAT also held that the claim was not excluded by s76 and paragraph 17 of Schedule 9 of the Equality Act. The EAT noted that the case turned on its particular facts, with the Claimant being treated as an 'employee' under s42 Equality Act.

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary.