Under the terms of the FPS 1992, the maximum pensionable service that a firefighter can build up is 30 years, while the earliest point at which they can retire is at age 50. This means that some scheme members – mainly those who joined before age 20 – must continue to pay employee contributions beyond the point of building up maximum pensionable service but before they are able to retire.
For example, if a person joined the scheme at 18 and paid contributions for 30 years, by age 48 they would have built up maximum pensionable service in the pension scheme, yet could not retire until age 50.
In 2016, the Government introduced an employee contributions holiday for FPS 1992 members who build up the maximum 30 years’ pensionable service prior to age 50. This applies from the point of accruing maximum pensionable service in the scheme until the firefighter’s 50th birthday. This change was applied retrospectively to 1 December 2006.
From 30 September 2016 onwards, FRAs stopped deducting contributions from current members of the scheme who are under age 50 and have built up the maximum service. If affected members remain in employment after age 50, contributions restart until the member retires or opts out of the scheme (becoming to a deferred pension payable from age 60).
As the contributions holiday was backdated to 2006, affected firefighters who had retired since then received a refund of contributions.