A council worker and new father has accused his employers of firing him because he took paternity leave.
Oster Milambo requested paternity leave from Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council in 2013 six prior to the birth of his son.
Yet, to Milambo’s surprise, when he returned to work after the approved time off he was told that he had gone against the policy of giving fifteen weeks’ notice before taking leave and would therefore be subject to disciplinary action.
The question remains why Mr Milambo’s bosses at the council approved and signed off his leave if they knew it went against the correct official policy.
Following the incident Mr Milambo chose to resign from his job, which he claimed was no longer a comfortable or enjoyable environment for him after the unreasonable charges made against him.
Milambo subsequently pursued legal action against the council, which eventually resulted in an employment tribunal on Tuesday, where Mr Milambo’s lawyer, Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako reasoned that his client’s dismissal was unfair given that it was not stated anywhere in his contract that he must give 15 weeks’ notice and, moreover, since his bosses had actually approved his paternity leave.
Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto, whilst showing sympathy for Mr Milambo’s case, rejected his claim against the council.
The case comes just as Ed Miliband publicly announced that if Labour win in the May general elections then he will ensure that not only is the length of paternity leave doubled (to one month), but that paternity pay is increased too (from the current £160 per week to £260). Miliband has reassured businesses that the extra pay will be provided by the state.
Justifying his proposals, Mr Miliband said: “I think that people feel they are working hard for this economy but this economy is not working for them. We’ve got a very clear plan. First of all to double the amount of paid paternity leave from two to four weeks, to pay it at a decent rate, £260 a week, about at the minimum wage. We think that’s important because for dads, those first weeks of a child’s life, and I know this from my own experience, are incredible important. I was with a dad this morning who said ‘I really wished I could have taken more time off, but I only had those two weeks and it felt like a really short time.’"