The Supreme Court has confirmed that providing a pension based on part-time work does not constitute unfavourable treatment.
The claimant in the case in question, Mr Williams, believed that receiving an ill health pension from Swansea University which was based on his part-time, rather than full-time salary, was unfavourable treatment and disability discrimination.
Mr Williams suffered from a number of conditions leading him to voluntarily reduce his working hours in 2011. Two years later he took early retirement receiving a lump sum and annuity calculated on his part-time salary.
However, Mr Williams brought a claim to employment tribunal arguing that he was working part-time due to his disability so calculating the enhancement to his pension based on this salary was unfavourable treatment.
The court clarified that there was nothing unfavourable about being given an ill health pension which was only available due to his disability. In reality the claim was the fact that he wanted a bigger pension than was provided.
The court noted Mr Williams would not have been entitled to a full-time ill health pension if he had been able to work full-time. The pension treatment could not be unfavourable treatment because it wasn’t as advantageous as he wanted and non-disabled employees would not have been entitled to the ill health pension at all.
Overall this case draws distinctions between the words unfavourable and detriment. The court could not accept that a disabled person who is treated advantageously as a result of their condition could have been the victim of unfair treatment.
The case potentially provides clarity and reassurance for employers whose pension schemes offer certain benefits in cases of disability.
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