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FAO Flowery - Alabaster

(18 Posts)
HungryHorace Thu 30-Jan-14 17:23:12

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning this in a post on here as it means I'm due a further £103.00 from my employer. Not a huge amount, but when you're on mat pay, every little helps! :-)

I thought it was worth posting this here as I think it deserves to be flagged and an explanation given from someone in the know, as I don't think my employer would have voluntarily paid it!

Thanks again.

flowery Thu 30-Jan-14 17:55:00


A brief overview for the curious, the "Alabaster" ruling is a piece of case law which basically means that if a woman receives (or would have received had she been at work) a pay rise after her statutory maternity pay was calculated but before the end of her maternity pay period, her SMP must be recalculated based on the new pay, and the recalculated amount must be backdated.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 31-Jan-14 09:19:27

Oh that's interesting, thanks.

lougle Fri 31-Jan-14 09:48:53

Flowery, I know that is the case, but do you know the background that led to that conclusion?

If a woman was on Maternity leave from May to May, and is due a pay rise each April, it doesn't seem very fair that they have the effect of the pay rise a year earlier than they otherwise would have done?

flowery Fri 31-Jan-14 10:03:17

It's about Equal Pay lougle, but I'm not sure about the rational behind the conclusion that pay rises must be backdated for the entire period even if the rise was effective from, say, the day before SMP ended.

Am looking for guidance that explains this point...!

lougle Fri 31-Jan-14 10:05:29

Thanks smile

prh47bridge Fri 31-Jan-14 10:55:29

The ECJ took the view that it is discriminatory if a woman receives no benefit from a pay rise received after the start of the reference period and before the end of maternity leave. They said, "To deny such an increase to a woman on maternity leave would discriminate against her since, had she not been pregnant, she would have received the pay rise."

Personally I don't think the ECJ has thought this through properly (to be honest, I think that is true of quite a few of their judgements). In the situation outlined by Flowery it discriminates against anyone who isn't pregnant. Those who are not pregnant would receive one day's increase whilst the woman on maternity leave will receive 90% of six weeks increase (if she is on low pay, 90% of 39 weeks increase). In some circumstances a woman who doesn't take full maternity leave may end up receiving more for her time on maternity leave than those who remain working.

flowery Fri 31-Jan-14 10:58:49

"Personally I don't think the ECJ has thought this through properly (to be honest, I think that is true of quite a few of their judgements)."


I can't find anything explaining the logic behind backdating the increases in this way, which suggest it is possibly something that perhaps the ECJ didn't quite think through, with the wording of the judgment resulting in this situation without that quite being the intention.

lougle Fri 31-Jan-14 12:13:34

You see, I can completely understand a judgement that says:

"If a woman receives a pay rise after her average pay from the reference period has been calculated, that affects that average pay (i.e. the pay rise was deferred but back dated to a date within the reference period) then the average pay should be recalculated using the higher pay rate."

"If a woman is/was/would otherwise have been due a pay rise during the period of her maternity leave, then that pay rise should be applied to payments after the date of the pay rise."

But this judgement is....odd.

lougle Fri 31-Jan-14 12:28:25

Ahh this gives a summary.

Ruling is here

So the Alabaster case was about a woman who had a pay rise between the 8 week averaging period, and the start of her maternity leave. She felt that as the average pay did not reflect her new salary prior to starting Maternity Leave, it should have been updated.

I still don't understand why they felt that it should have such a wide scope though confused

Blankiefan Fri 31-Jan-14 16:38:28

Could I ask if this would hold with enhanced terms? So if a company offers 9 months full salary as CMP, and there's a payrise in the period, should it be backdated? Or does the fact that the enhanced terms are better than Statutory trump the ruling?


lougle Fri 31-Jan-14 17:51:38

I don't think it changes anything, Blankie, but prh or flowery may know differently.

honestpointofview Fri 31-Jan-14 21:35:29

Evening all

I think the reasons are linked in part. to an early European Judgement. The Advocate General's opinion was that early judgment (Gillespie) raised a number of difficulties and should not be followed. The ECJ disagreed and went with the early judgment. The main reason is as PHR says is linked to the reference period. They say that women on maternity leave are in a special position (rather than being able to claim equality). So in effect they give more favorable treatment.

Flowery- This is similar to positive discrimination set out by Archibald v Fife.

prh47bridge Sat 01-Feb-14 12:26:11

Positive discrimination in favour of women I can understand although I'm not particularly in favour of it unless there is strong evidence that it is necessary. But a situation where a woman who takes maternity leave ends up being paid more than she would have had she stayed in work seems bonkers (and a waste of our taxes, given that employers recoup most of the cost of SMP from government). That is discriminating against women who don't get pregnant as well as discriminating against men.

lougle Sat 01-Feb-14 12:51:20

I agree, prh.

CommanderShepard Tue 04-Feb-14 17:31:31

Bugger! I wish I'd known this while I was on mat leave; I had a payrise 2 months in. I've left the company now so I imagine there's nothing to be done but I'll certainly let others know.

zombeana Fri 13-Mar-15 09:49:05

I am so sorry to resurrect this thread, but this is the most relevant one I have found for what I am asking - if I need to make a new one please let me know, am new and not sure if I should...

I have an issue with my employer over Alabaster and I need some help...I am stressed beyond belief with the way they've treated me since I told them I am taking maternity leave. Firstly, I was on a rolled up holiday pay contract with an hourly rate in one role which covered my qualifying period so they used this to calculate it, I was then offered another role (also with rolled up holiday pay) on a much higher hourly rate. At this time I was told I could not take annual leave and could not accrue it as 'it was already I my hourly rate'. It took me 2 months and many, many conversations for them to finally allow me to accrue annual leave whilst on maternity but only for 18 weeks, they refused to allow me to accrue it for 39 or 52- citing because I was already getting it included in my maternity pay (??).

However since then, I have been offered my current role on a permanent basis, on a higher salary - with holiday. Which of course I am grateful for, but am now I am due to go off I a week and don't have a chance to use my holiday...! I could really have done with it! ..Anyway

I asked them if they would recalculate my maternity pay and they have refused citing it's not a pay rise it's a promotion and a new contract therefore I do not qualify. HMRC have disagreed and believe it should be recalculated, however HR have claimed they also rang HMRC and were told the opposite...

Does anyone have an opinion/advice on this? I don't really know where to turn. HMRC have raised a dispute, but this could take months and I am 37 weeks pregnant and up all night worrying about this.

Thank you.

AlternativeTentacles Fri 13-Mar-15 09:57:30

Make a new thread.

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