In 2015, new laws introduced a new scheme for firefighters - the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2015 (FPS 2015). These laws included protections which meant that some members of the existing schemes (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) didn't join FPS 2015 either straight away or at all, depending on their age. Following a legal challenge known as Sargeant, the courts determined that the protections given to members were age discriminatory.
On 15 July 2019, the government made a written statement [HCWS1725] accepting the court’s decision. They confirmed that they would engage with the Employment Tribunal to agree how to fix the discrimination. The written statement confirmed that this fix, or remedy, would apply across all public sector schemes.
Between July 2020 and October 2020, the government consulted on their proposals.
On 4 February 2021, the consultation response document was published. This document forms the basis of government policy and is now being made into law through the Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill. The Bill is due to come into force on 1 April 2022.
The response confirms that discrimination will be addressed in two parts:
Future discrimination (prospective)
- To remove future discrimination from the scheme and ensure equal treatment, all remaining protected members who are not currently members of FPS 2015 will transfer into this scheme on 1 April 2022.
- This means that all future service for all members will build up in the existing FPS 2015 - the scheme is not changing. Benefits already built up in either of the previous schemes are fully protected.
Past discrimination (retrospective)
- The period while discrimination was in place - 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2022 - is known as the remedy period. Members who moved into FPS 2015 on 1 April 2015 or later will have their benefits converted to their former final salary scheme for the whole of their service in the remedy period. The benefits built up in FPS 2015 will be kept as an underpinned record.
- At retirement, eligible members will be able to keep their final salary benefits or choose to receive the underpinned FPS 2015 benefits for the same period. This known as Deferred Choice Underpin (DCU).
- The changes to remove past discrimination will be brought into law on 1 October 2023.
The 2015 Remedy is the term used for these pension scheme changes.
Further information on the age discrimination case is available on the Firefighters' Pensions Regulations and Guidance website under age discrimination remedy.