Pensions and Age Discrimination – What does the Firefighters case mean for Northern Ireland?


The Supreme Court has refused the Government’s application for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal ruling that a change to firefighters’ pensions in 2015 was unlawful on the grounds of age discrimination. The 2015 change meant that older firefighters could stay in the existing and better scheme and younger firefighters had to transfer to a new and worse scheme causing a financial loss. Over 6000 Tribunal claims were lodged in England. The Supreme Court’s decision is the final stage that the Government could take to try and overturn the ruling. The cases will now be remitted back to the employment tribunal for remedy hearings.

MTB Solicitors have already lodged over 1500 Tribunal claims on behalf of serving and retired police officers who were subjected to a similar change to their pension on 1st April 2015.The Northern Ireland Police Pension Scheme 2015 was imposed upon serving officers unilaterally with no agreement given by the Claimants to being moved onto the scheme. The terms of the 2015 scheme were detrimental to the Claimants in comparison to the previous 1988 and 2006 schemes. The scheme introduced some protections to certain officers resulting in 3 groups of officers who were treated differently according to their age:-

  1. A group of active members who could continue on the 1988 or 2006 scheme without limit, these officers were born on or before 1st April 1967.
  2. A group of active members who enjoyed tapered protection if born after 1st April 1967 but before 2nd April 1971.
  3. A group of active members who were born after 1st April 1971. These members received no protection and were automatically transferred to the 2015 scheme.

It is being argued that those in group 2 & 3 above are being subjected to ongoing discrimination on the grounds of age.

If you are an officer who falls within either group 2 or 3 and wish to join this Class action please contact either John McShane or Judy Hamilton of the MTB Employment Department on 02890329801.