Legal challenge in pipeline over teachers and doctors’ pensions

nhs doctors pensions
Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

Teachers and doctors who have been moved on to less beneficial pension schemes have grounds for a legal challenge to ensure they don’t lose out, according to legal firm Leigh Day.

The Supreme Court in June this year denied the government leave to appeal the court’s earlier decision that judges and firefighters should not be transferred to financially less advantageous schemes than their older colleagues.

This ruling also applies to new pension arrangements put in place for teachers and doctors, which Leigh Day says it will now continue to fight in the same way it has for judges and police officers – a case in which the government conceded defeat earlier this month. About 15,000 officers’ claims for age discrimination have been lodged at employment tribunal.

Kiran Daurka, a partner in the employment team at Leigh Day, said earlier this month (in the context of the police case) that, despite the establishment of precedent by the Supreme Court, the decision did not give any guarantee for other public sector workers, or to anyone who had not brought a claim, who had seen similar changes to their pension schemes. She said: “We will continue to fight these changes through the courts to show that changes to public sector pension schemes for teachers and for NHS staff have also been discriminatory.”

Pension changes made by the government took effect from 1 April 2015 but, said Leigh Day in a statement, the negative consequences of the ejection of younger workers born after a certain date on those schemes, despite the contributions already made, were only being realised now by many workers. “Even if the government makes changes now to address the discrimination going forward, there is no guarantee that it will compensate public sector workers for the past discrimination that has been taking place since April 2015 unless they bring a legal challenge.”

Nigel Mackay, partner at law firm Leigh Day, said the changes made by the government had unfairly left younger public sector workers out of pocket.

He added: “As a result of the Supreme Court ruling in June, the government has run out of options in relation to those judges and firefighters who have brought claims. However, it has not made any commitments to remedy the issue for any judges or firefighters who have not brought claims, or any other public sector workers, including doctors or teachers, that have been affected by the same changes to their pension policy.”

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