Retained firefighters to appeal for pension and sick pay rights

Retained
firefighters battling for equal pension and sick pay rights are to seek leave
to appeal to the House of Lords after losing a crucial test case in the Court
of Appeal today.

The
UK has around 15,000 retained firefighters, typically employed beyond main
urban centres and ‘on call’ for between 120 and 168 hours a week. They are
employed under the condition that they have other jobs, but have to live and
work near to the fire stations where they are ‘retained’.

The
case centres on the exclusion of retained firefighters from the pension scheme
and their worse treatment under the sick pay scheme. They say they are being
treated differently as they are part-time workers, and that this is unlawful.

The
appeal court accepted that retained firefighters work to the same contracts as
full-time workers, but accepted the employers’ argument that retained
firefighters did not do the same, or even similar work, and disregarded the
appeal.

"Retained
firefighters are treated by employers as providing a second-class service
entitling them to second-class employment rights," said Fire Brigades
Union assistant general-secretary, Mike Fordham.

"The
court was told by the fire authorities that retained firefighters attend
incidents until full-time firefighters turn up, and that is patent nonsense.
[The decision] is a bitter blow to morale."

The
final outcome will impact on retained firefighters in every brigade in the UK,
with the exception of London.

By Jessica Devonport

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