Public sector staff win rights for statutory pension scheme

Agency staff working in the public sector have won ‘significant new rights’
to join statutory occupational pension schemes, following a decision in the
European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The ECJ judgment centred on the case of Debra Allonby, a lecturer sacked by
Accrington and Rossendale College in 1996, and re-employed through agency
Education Lecturing Services.

Allonby claimed she was entitled to the same pay as a male lecturer directly
employed by the college, and that the teachers’ pension scheme discriminated
against her by excluding self-employed lecturers.

The ECJ ruled against her unequal pay claim, but said the Government’s
arrangements – which prevent agency teachers joining the pension scheme – may
have to be overturned if they indirectly discriminate against women.

NATFHE, the university and college lecturers’ union which backed Allonby’s
case, said the decision was a significant victory that moves employment rights
forward for agency teachers.

Paul Mackney, general secretary, said: "The Government must now act
quickly to comply with European legislation and extend full pension and other
rights to all agency teachers."

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "Hopefully this will go
some way to curtail the public sector practice of sacking workers only to
re-employ them as agency staff on worse pay, pension and other

Barber added that the decision highlighted the need for the Government to
lift its block on the EU Temporary Agency Worker Directive, which could end instances
of unfavourable pay and conditions for agency workers.

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