A leading law firm has warned the Government that it could be facing legal challenges from hundreds of thousands of teachers and doctors relating to changes to their pension schemes.

Leigh Day argues that teachers and doctors have grounds for a legal challenge against the Government for age discrimination if they have been moved onto a less beneficial pension scheme.

As was the case with judges’ pensions (see Ruling on judges’ pensions could have wider impact) , younger teachers and doctors have been forced to move onto a new pension scheme which is less beneficial than their old one.

Older teachers and doctors, who are within 10 years of retirement, have been allowed to stay on the previous scheme.

The Government introduced changes to pensions across the public sector in April 2015 with the intention of reducing the cost of these pensions. However, the negative consequences of the changes and the tax implications are only now being realised by many public sector workers.

In December 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Ministry of Justice had discriminated against judges on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to changes to their pension. This ruling also covered a separate challenge brought by firefighters in relation to the same issue.

In June 2019, the Supreme Court rejected the Government’s application to appeal the ruling, bringing the case to a close.

Leigh Day believes that this problem persists across the public sector and is preparing to bring a claim on behalf of teachers and doctors against the Government (see https://pensionschallenge.co.uk for details).

The law firm already represents around 15,000 police officers whose claims for age discrimination have been lodged with the employment tribunal.

Partner Nigel Mackay said: “Public sector pension schemes have been known to provide better than average benefits to reflect the valuable contribution that those in the public sector make to society. However, the changes made by the Government have unfairly left younger public sector workers out of pocket.”

Last reviewed 6 September 2019