A European Court of Justice ruling means female employees who cannot work due to occupational injury will not receive a social security allowance.
The ECJ has overturned a claim of sex discrimination by four female employees who wanted to claim reduced earnings allowance following an injury.
Virginia Hepple and three other women claimed they were discriminated against because they are entitled to receive the benefit only until the age of 60, while men are eligible up to 65. Reduced earnings allowance, for employees or former employees who have suffered an occupational accident or disease, is then replaced by a retirement allowance.
Noel Deans, partner at Goodman Derrick Solicitors, said, “The difference in retirement age and how it impacts on Reduced Earnings Allowance is clearly discriminatory on the grounds of sex. But it is a permissible form of discrimination because of the difference in retirement ages between men and women.”
The court ruled that although discrimination occurred, it was justifiable because the reduced earnings scheme is linked to the UK pension scheme, and therefore to the difference between the retirement age for men and that for women.