News and Events

Equal Pay - Michelle Alabaster v DWP

  • Posted

The Court of Appeal has, this morning, handed down its decision in Alabaster v DWP.

Last year in this case, the ECJ held that Article 141 required any pay rise awarded to a pregnant woman between the beginning of the pay reference period and the end of maternity leave should be included when the amount of maternity leave is calculated - whether or not the payrise is backdated to the period covered by the reference pay.

The Court of Appeal has now concluded the drama by stating that s1 of the Equal Pay Act 1970, insofar as it requires a pregnant woman to cite a male comparator, should be disapplied (meaning that no comparator is needed if it can be shown that the reason for not paying the pay increase is because of the woman's pregnancy). This adopts the House of Lords's approach in Webb v EMO Cargo.

The Court of Appeal declined to make any ruling, since it became unnecessary once the need for a comparator was disapplied and Mrs Alabaster could win her claim under the EqPA, on whether the 3 month time limit for claiming unlawful deductions under the Employment Rights Act 1996 offended EU law.

As one would expect, this is a complicated decision. But after eight years, and a trip to the ECJ, Mrs Alabaster has recovered her £204.53. It's always nice for the DWP to maintain its firm grasp of the concepts of proportionality.