The High Court has ruled that firefighters are entitled to increased pensions if they earn additional allowances for working extended hours or additional duties, in a landmark case that could have huge implications for firefighters. The court found that allowances for training and for additional shift arrangements are pensionable, in a major victory for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Firefighters in Wales who won their cases on Friday, are regularly paid an additional allowance for working additional anti-social hours in the Fire Authority’s training school or for accepting shift systems up to 42 hours longer than the standard contracted hours.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority argued that the arrangements were not pensionable, because the arrangements were not permanent and could be ceased at any time. However, the court ruled that the payments were regular, even if they could be revoked in the future, and thus qualify for pension benefits.
The Authority has been ordered to pay pension contributions retrospectively and will now consider whether to appeal this decision.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, 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.”