The High Court ruled on Firefighters’ pensionable pay last week. The ruling is as a result of an appealed Pension Ombudsman (PO) decision PO-14863, in respect of the Welsh Firefighter schemes that will be of interest to English Fire Authorities. We will be monitoring the impact of this ruling within the Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) on which the FRSA sits, we expect the SAB to obtain legal advice to consider giving guidance on what this means for all Fire Authorities.
Because the regulations themselves do not provide a definition of ‘temporary’, the application of the pensionable pay regulations has long been an issue for the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme with confusion over the correct interpretation of temporary in regulations which uses the term:
“the member’s pay received for the performance of the duties of the member’s role except any allowance or emoluments paid to that member on a temporary basis”.
The issues in this case are mostly about payments for duty systems which have previously been interpreted as temporary because the Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) could change the duty system. This judgment now makes a welcome statement on the interpretation of temporary.
Last year we were made aware of two separate FRA that needed to amend their pay systems due to not deeming either the Retaining Fee or Drill Night Fee as pensionable. Even now, it is remarkable that FRAs vary in what they deem to be pensionable and non-pensionable.
Our view is that guidance needs to be issued from the SAB regarding pensionable pay to provide a framework with which FRAs can use.
Recognition in Kent?
Due to the ongoing impasse at a national level, some Fire Authorities are becoming more and more frustrated with the lack of progress to continue with the Emergency Medical Response (EMR) trials, so much so that they are turning to the FRSA for assistance to continue or restart these lifesaving initiatives. This provides our members with a positive opportunity that is a win-win for firefighters and public safety.
We have recently been approached by Kent FRS to review our locally recognition arrangements with a view to become formally recognised, this is obviously a welcome development and demonstrates that the Association is a forward looking organisation that wishes to work with employers to modernise the firefighter role and make the role relevant and sustainable for the long term.
If you would like to know more about the FRSA and the range of benefits that we offer our members please contact us via our website and we will provide you with further details.