Part-timers gain right to backdate pension claims

Employers
could face a bill of up to £17bn after part-time workers were given the right
to claim backdated pension contributions.

Last
week, the House of Lords ruled that employer contributions should be backdated
to 1976, when European law first required equality in pensions. Part-timers
were denied access to these funds prior to 1994.

The
CBI’s director-general Digby Jones said, "The cost will be substantial,
and there could be an administrative nightmare as many records will no longer
exist, which will create an additional cost."

The
Government estimates that the cost to UK businesses will be between £10bn and
£17bn.

Susan
Bell, GNER employment relations manager, said, "It will be an enormous
cost to employers, although it is a fair decision which addresses
equality."

The
decision in the long-running HSBC and Wolverhsmpton Healthcare NHS Trust case
follows a ruling last May by the European Court of Justice that the UK’s
two-year limit on backdating claims was contrary to EC law.

Nigel
Connolly, HR director of EasyJet, said, "The effect on business will be
fundamental, but with the implementation of flexible working arrangements there
is a grey area between full- and part-time workers, so it is time for
equality."

The
employees most affected are women, which suggests that  employers such as banks, retailers and the
NHS and education will be particularly affected.

Lew
Swift, HR manager of Walton Centre for neuro-sciences, said, "I am
concerned by the amount of money it could cost the NHS,.

"However, if we allow money issues to stop social
progress then no progress would be made."

By Paul Nelson

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