A High Court ruling has spared employers from paying a potential £15m in pensions costs.
The ruling overturned an ombudsman's decision that found that guaranteed minimum pensions (GMPs) - the elements of occupational pensions that replace state benefits - discriminated against women.
GMPs sometimes pay more to either sex depending on pension conditions and the person's age.
If the ruling had stood, employers could have faced heavy pensions costs and the burden of extra administration.
In Ian Williamson v Sedgwick Group Trustees, the judge overturned an ombudsman's decision that GMPs contravened European legislation.
The judge said that “the scheme pension is one indivisible pension”, supporting the view that GMPs form only part of an occupational pension and are not subject to equal treatment rules by themselves.
"The case is significant as it affects several thousand employers and everyone in contracted-out occupational pension schemes - about 10 million people," said Adrian Lamb, head of legal consulting at William M Mercer.
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