17 Jul Maternity support win for Federation
17 July 2018
Pension regulations which could have discriminated against some groups, including fathers, same sex partners, and adopting couples have been successfully challenged by the Federation.
PFEW challenged provisions of the Police Pension Schemes and Additional Voluntary Contributions Amendment (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 which unfairly disadvantaged some officers.
Previous Regulations allowed women to make contributions to “buy back” pension for their time on maternity leave, but prevented others – more likely to be men – from doing so for maternity support leave. We argued that the leave was intended for the care of the child, rather than to protect women during and after pregnancy and childbirth – so accordingly any difference in treatment could not be justified.
Initially, through discussion in PNB and PAB over a long period, we were able to get the Home Office to agree that Regulations were unfair, and to amend this back to 2014. This resulted in the amended 2018 Regulations.
However, we felt that wasn’t enough. We argued that this should be backdated to 3 April 2011, when additional maternity support leave first came in. On 3 July, shortly before the Federation was due to issue a claim for judicial review, the Home Office agreed to amend the Regulations to be consistent with our position.
Andy Fittes, General Secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said it was a win for PFEW members and equality more generally. He explained: “We made the point to the Home Office that the regulations as they stood amounted to indirect sex discrimination and were unlawful. Our legal advice also suggested that the cut-off date of 1 September 2014 wasn’t right, and that there was a strong case for saying that officers who had taken leave before that date should be able to pay contributions to buy back pension. I’m delighted that we were able to push the date back to 3 April 2011.
“This work is legally ground-breaking as well as being good for officers. We are not talking about massive sums for individuals, but those pension contributions will continue to give a benefit throughout retirement. From a personal point of view, it is satisfying that the Home Office capitulated as it shows we were right to bring the challenge.
“It is also a win for equality and for ensuring that the regulations achieve the objective of ensuring that our members – men and women – are not disadvantaged by having children or adopting.”
A member who wishes to buy-back periods of unpaid family leave for pension purposes must notify the police pension authority in writing by 21 August 2018. They will be required to pay an amount equal to the pension contributions which would have been paid had the unpaid leave not been taken.