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Disabled employee loses appeal over pension rights

Posted: 13th September 2017   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

A disabled employee who reduced his hours from full-time to part-time before taking ill health retirement was not treated unfavourably in the calculation of his pension rights.

That was the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of man who retired at the age of 37 after longstanding medical issues.

The court heard that he worked for a university on a full-time basis from 2000 to May 2010 when he started working part-time due to deteriorating health. In June 2013, he took ill health retirement.

Under the university's pension scheme, he was entitled to take his accrued pension benefits immediately rather than having to wait until his normal pension date in October 2041. Those benefits were then enhanced based on salary at actual retirement date and in respect of a further period of deemed pensionable service from actual retirement date to normal pension date.

The employee argued that, had he suffered a different disability that struck him down suddenly such that there was no period of part-time working, his benefits would have been calculated on a full-time basis; therefore, the enhancement to his pension should have been calculated using full-time equivalent salary with no corresponding reduction in pensionable service.

The case went all the way to the Court of Appeal, which ruled against him.

It held that if the employee's circumstances were sufficient to establish disability discrimination, it would be difficult to see why it would not apply to a disabled employee who secured a part-time job because that was all that they could manage, but would otherwise have worked full-time.

Parliament could not have intended that people in this situation should be able to claim that they had been subject to unfavourable treatment. Similarly, it would be remarkable if they could maintain an entitlement to the same retirement pension as they would have received had they worked full-time throughout their employment. In those circumstances, there would be no arguable case of unfavourable treatment.

Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about the issues raised in these articles or any aspect of employment law.