High Court deems firefighters’ ‘overtime’ as pensionable

The High Court has ruled that firefighters making additional earnings through working extended hours or doing additional duties are entitled to increased pensions.

In what has been described as a “landmark case” that could have “huge implication for firefighters”, the High Court sided with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that paid training and overtime were pensionable.

Firefighters in Wales won the case on Friday (29 March), after they claimed that regularly paid additional allowance through working extra hours in the Fire Authority’s training school or additional shifts, up to 42 hours longer than their standard contacted hours, entitled them to further pension benefits.

The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority argued that, because the arrangement were not permanent and could be ended at any time, they were not pensionable.

However the High Court decided that the payments were regular, and therefore qualified for pension benefits.

The Fire Authority has now been ordered to pay retrospective pension contributions, although it is now considering whether to appeal the decision.

Commenting on the ruling, FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack said: “This is major victory for firefighters. When a firefighter regularly carries out additional paid work, that pay should be factored into their pension, regardless of whether it is part of their core role.

The government must act now to ensure that firefighters across the country have these payments included in the calculation of their pensions.

“The coalition government decimated public sector pensions in 2015. Thousands of firefighters who had risked their lives to save others saw their retirement savings slashed overnight.

"This victory is one small step in the battle to reclaim fair pensions for firefighters across the country.”

In December 2018, firefighters and the FBU won a legal case against the government that changes made to their pension schemes were discriminatory against younger members.

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