Defined Benefit 

Doctors take government to court over pensions

Doctors take government to court over pensions

At least a dozen doctors are taking legal action against the government in relation to pension policies implemented in 2015, which saw younger doctors transferred to a less generous pension scheme.

The case, which mirrors the judges and firefighters case - where it was ruled the government had discriminated against them on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to their pensions - was first announced in March, but has now entered the Employment Tribunal.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of council of the British Medical Association, said although doctors’ pension schemes were different to the judges' and firefighters', the underlying legal principles were essentially the same.

He said: "We want to bring a challenge on behalf of the UK’s younger doctors regarding the legality of the 2015 NHS Pension Scheme.

"In March of this year, the BMA wrote to the Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock warning him of the intention to take legal action.

"Letters were also sent to the Scottish and Northern Ireland governments on behalf of members in those nations. We have made our intention and position very clear and we expect to support many more doctors in the coming month."

Last week the Supreme Court refused the government’s application to appeal the judges' court case marking the end of the legal dispute process.

The dispute arose after in March 2015, the defined benefit pension schemes for judges and firefighters were closed and savers were transferred into a replacement scheme.

Transitional provisions were put in place, which allowed older judges and firefighters to remain members of the old schemes either until retirement or until the end of a period of tapered protection, dependent on their age.

In 2015, two sections of the NHS Pension Scheme were closed, moving many NHS staff onto a newer 2015 scheme with less valuable retirement benefits, the BMA stated.

However, it also allowed some older doctors to stay on the previous schemes until they either retired or they moved to the new scheme at the end of a fixed transition period.

The union alleged that the failure to allow younger doctors to benefit from these transitions constituted unlawful age discrimination. It wants the government to scrap the scheme.

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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