Today marked the beginning of an employment tribunal in Birmingham, the outcome of which might change employment law in the UK.
"For decades, parents have campaigned for the rights to increased parental provision in the workplace," said Geoffrey Mansfield, lawyer for the plaintiff. "Only recently has paternity leave caught up with the status awarded to maternity leave. However if my client is not successful that will all be overturned."
Mr Mansfield is acting on behalf of Zachary Vincent, a 28 year old travelling salesman from Solihul who has brought his employer to the tribunal amid claims and counter claims regarding his demands for paternity leave. Mr Vincent is expecting the birth of his 15th child in two months time and maintains that he should be entitled to the full two-week paternity leave, his employer contests this.
The Billingsworth Steel company says that this would mean that Mr Billingsworth has only worked for 1 month in the last calendar year allowing for the holiday he has taken in between the other 14 bouts of paternity leave.
In a statement issued through their solicitors the company said that it fully supported the roles of fathers in the family and met all its obligations under employment law.
"However, with the latest birth he will have 15 children by 14 different mothers in 11 different parts of the UK," said the statement. "We feel that in Mr Vincent’s case that our good will has been taken advantage of."
Mr Vincent’s solicitor said that the character of his client was beyond reproach with both an exemplary record as a travelling salesman, but that they also had much testimony about what a sincere and personable family man he is.
"Everyone in the office really enjoys his visits. He shows a great interest in us and our families," explained Mr Mansfield. "Indeed only this morning my secretary commented that said that she hoped that the case would be settled quickly before she leaves as she has just found out she is pregnant."