Pension Update - 12th March 2020
As the Police Pensions Technical Working Group in London has now had it’s final meeting I feel it would be useful to provide an update. Throughout this process PFNI have made it clear that police officers should have either stayed in their original pension schemes or have had the choice whether they wished to move to the new scheme. This will remain our stance in any future discussions with our own Government over police officer pensions.
The seven main staff associations: Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland (SANI), Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), Scottish Police Federation (SPF), Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA), Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS), and Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association (CPOSA) are continuing to work together with key employer representatives through the respective Scheme Advisory Boards to achieve a positive solution.
At present the Government have indicated that it will introduce remedy to reverse the age discrimination element right across all public sector pension schemes. As pensions are a devolved matter it is anticipated that Stormont will eventually follow suit (albeit at present they have still yet to formally concede that they accept that age discrimination has occurred). This lack of acceptance could reasonably be construed to mean that the age discrimination is continuing and therefore it follows that the Employment Tribunals 3 month and a day rule remains a rolling period for the future submission of any claim if required.
I understand that the formal public consultation on the remedy solution(s) Government wish to progress will be launched in late Spring. Ultimately the remedy itself to be applied may or may not be acceptable to officers but until they can see the detail PFNI would suggest an informed decision cannot be taken. As such, PFNI are continuing to not legally support any individuals or groups of officers in respect of this matter and will of course reconsider that position when the detail becomes clearer. PFNI do not endorse nor condone any officers using private legal firms if they wish to lodge any claim for personal compensation. However, as previously notified, any legal costs incurred privately will be solely the responsibility of those individuals and will not be met by PFNI. It is anticipated that the related England and Wales tribunal case will be concluded before the Tribunals in NI effectively commence so we will all have some indication what any potential personal damages awards could look like.
Discussions continue both nationally and locally and the Government have been asked to consider other knock-on effects that any remedy will have, including the impact on contributions, taxation and on the most vulnerable, such as officers who have been ill-health-retired. PFNI feel it is worth stating again that the importance of fair and just pensions for police officers – who sacrifice so much during their working careers to serve and protect the public – cannot be understated.
A fulsome update with FAQs relevant to all members in police pension schemes was published on our website last month.
I will continue to provide timely updates as things become clearer.
Liam Kelly, PFNI Secretary