Employment Appeal Tribunal Overturns A19 Decision

theguardian.com

Five Police Forces needed to make manpower savings to ensure continuing efficiency whilst suffering budget cuts. By law (A19) no officer could be retired in order to secure efficiency unless he had an entitlement to a pension worth 2/3 of average pensionable pay, which an officer was entitled to start receiving, without actuarial reduction, after 30 years service. The Forces retired those officers who had such an entitlement.

The officers complained they had thereby been indirectly discriminated against on the ground of age, and an ET upheld their claims.

On appeal, it was held that although (contrary to the contention of the Forces) what was in issue was the practice of the Forces in adopting A19, the ET failed to have regard to the fact that the discriminatory element was entirely Parliament’s choice, failed to consider whether the means adopted was appropriate and reasonably necessary to the scheme actually adopted by the Forces and thereby fell into the error of law exposed in the cases of Benson and Blackburn, wrongly took into account and criticised the process by which the Forces had adopted their schemes rather than asking whether to do so was justified objectively, applied too high a standard of scrutiny anyway, and suggested as alternative means of achieving the aim of the Forces matters which could not provide that certainty of saving which the evidence had established was essential.

Since there was no way in which the Forces could have achieved their aims other than by use of A19 it was reasonably necessary to do so, and this was appropriate: the Tribunal decision was reversed, and the claims all dismissed.

The full decision can be read here: EAT Decision – A19