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Hundreds of teachers issuing legal claims challenging government pension scheme

Over 300 teachers are issuing legal claims to the Employment Tribunal in a group claim brought on their behalf by law firm Leigh Day relating to discriminatory changes made to their pensions.

Teacher with pupils

16 January 2020

The claim relates to changes that were made by the government to teachers’ pensions in 2015, when the majority of teachers were moved from final salary schemes to career average schemes. Older teachers who were within 10 years of retirement were protected from the changes and remained in the final salary scheme, whilst younger teachers were not offered the same protection. 
 
The courts have already found that making the changes in this way constitutes unlawful age discrimination in relation to similar changes made to judges’ and police pensions. 
 
In December 2018 the Court of Appeal ruled that the Ministry of Justice had discriminated against judges on the grounds of age, race and equal pay and in June 2019 the Supreme Court rejected the government’s application to appeal the ruling.
 
In August 2019 the government conceded defeat in relation to police pensions, acknowledging that moving police officers to new police pension schemes, based on their age, was discriminatory.
 
Leigh Day will argue on behalf of the teachers in the claim that they are entitled to be treated as if they had never left the final salary scheme. This remedy has been offered on an interim basis to judges and police officers who have already brought successful claims, and is expected to be confirmed at final remedy hearings later this year. However, no commitment has been made by the government to provide any remedy to the wider workforce of police officers and judges, or to other public sector workers affected by similar pension changes. Therefore, the only way to ensure that the discrimination is remedied is to bring legal proceedings.
 
It is likely that a first hearing will be scheduled in spring 2020 to deal with the teachers’ claims and Leigh Day will be asking the Government to remedy the position for its clients with immediate effect. Leigh Day has created a dedicated website for information about the claims.
 
Nigel Mackay, partner at law firm Leigh Day which represents judges, police officers, teachers and doctors in pension discrimination cases, said:
 
“Despite eventually accepting defeat in relation to our clients who are judges and police officers, the government has made no promise to remedy the discriminatory changes it made to other public sector pensions schemes, which have had a substantial financial impact on hard working people, including teachers and doctors. 
 
“We have started issuing claims on behalf of the growing group of teachers that we represent and we believe thousands more could bring a legal claim. We are determined to pursue these claims on behalf of our clients to ensure that the Government remedies the discriminatory changes it made to our clients’ pension schemes. Without bringing claims, there is no guarantee that teachers will receive any remedy.”
 

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