Which is it you want – equality or maternity leave?: Alabaster v. Barclays Bank p.l.c. and Secretary of State for Social Security [2005] E.W.C.A Civ. 508, [2005] I.R.L.R. 576

Feminist Legal Studies 14 (1):87-97 (2006)


In Alabaster v. Barclays Bank plc and Secretary of State for Social Security (No. 2: [2005] E.W.C.A Civ. 508, [2005] I.R.L.R. 576.) Michelle Alabaster won a grand total of £204.53 (plus £65.86 interest) after eight years of litigation, which included two visits to the Court of Appeal and one to the European Court of Justice. This marathon resulted from the sex discrimination which Alabaster had alleged in relation to the calculation of her Statutory Maternity Pay (S.M.P.) whilst she was pregnant 10 years earlier. The technicalities of the statutory schemes involved should not be allowed to disguise the important principle which finally emerges in the Court of Appeal and which underlines one of the longstanding criticisms of the equality legislation, namely the requirement that a woman must compare herself with a man in order to establish unlawful sex discrimination

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