PFEW considering implications of Government loss over judges’ and firefighters’ pensions

Firefighters and judges have won a legal battle that could have significant implications for police pensions.

Jan 29, 2018

Firefighters and judges have won a legal battle that could have significant implications for police pensions. The ongoing battle over fire service pensions took another twist on Monday (January 29) when an employment tribunal found the Government used the wrong test to assess the proportionality of new requirements. Meanwhile, members of the judiciary won a similar case after a court upheld a claim that 2015 changes to the pension scheme unfairly discriminated against younger, female and black and minority ethnic (BME) judges. However, the courts ruled both aims of protecting longer-serving staff from the changes were legitimate. Lawyers for the Fire Brigades’ Union and police staff associations are now examining the rulings in detail to determine the potential ramifications. The 2015 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme saw firefighters aged 45 compulsorily transferred to a new system that required them to work until 60 and pay more. The FBU claims this “unfairly penalised” younger firefighters as their older colleagues were allowed to remain in the original arrangements. It added that a disproportionate number of women and ethnic minority firefighters are affected by the changes as they make up a larger proportion of the workforce aged 45 or under. In the same year, younger judges were forced to move over to a less generous pension scheme than they had been used to. Before regulations were changed in 2006, police officers were allowed to retire after 30 years’ service under the Police Pension Scheme (PPS). The New Police Pension Scheme (NPPS) introduced that year increased this to 35 years. However, since April 2015, new entrants have been required to work until age 60, or 65 in non-Home Office forces. PPS and NPPS members who had more than ten years to age 55 in April 2012, and PPS members who had more than ten years to age 48 and were ten years away from a maximum unreduced pension, are also subject to the new rules. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the Government is considering appealing the tribunal’s verdict. Andy Fittes, general secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We note the outcomes and will now need to look closely at the judgments in detail, as well as wait to hear whether there will be any appeals. “These are complex rulings and we need to examine the minutiae to see whether there are any implications for our members.”

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