FRSA National Update
October 05, 2022
The Second Options Exercise
You will recall that the original legal settlement under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 only permitted certain retained (On-Call) firefighters with service between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 to become members of the pension scheme.
Eligible firefighters were asked whether they wanted to join this scheme in an options exercise which took place in 2014-2015. Elections to join had to be received by 30 September 2015. This is now referred to as the ‘first options exercise’.
More recently, this judgment was challenged at the European Court of Justice in relation to fee-paid judges. The Court ruled in that case that service going back to the start of employment could be taken into account.
There then followed a set of negotiations between the government and unions which resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) being agreed.
What does this mean?
This means that a second options exercise will take place to allow eligible retained firefighters to buy pension service as a special member of the FPS 2006, backdated to the start date of their employment with their local fire and rescue service.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
The following individuals are eligible for the second options exercise:
- Retained firefighters employed on any date between 7 April 2000 and 30 June 2000 (inclusive)
- Retained firefighters employed on any date between 7 April 2000 and 30 June 2000 (inclusive) as well as on any date between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 (inclusive)
- Retained firefighters employed on any date between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 (inclusive), but not on any date between 7 April and 1 July 2000, who were eligible to take part in the first options exercise but were not given opportunity to do so.
Retained firefighters employed on any date between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 (inclusive), but not on any date between 7 April and 1 July 2000, who were given opportunity to take part in the first options exercise but did not choose to do so within the legal time limits are not eligible for the second options exercise.
Please see the examples below:
Q: I left employment as a retained firefighter between 7 April 2000 and 30 June 2000. I was not given an option to join under the first options exercise – will I be eligible this time?
A: Yes, you meet the condition set out in point one above. The earliest in scope date is 7 April 2000. If your employment in the same role is continuous and started before 7 April 2000, you will be given an opportunity to buy service to your original start date.
Q: I was eligible for the first options exercise as I had retained service within the period 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006, however, my retained service started before 1 July 2000 – will I be eligible for the second options exercise?
A: Yes, you meet the condition set out in point two above. The earliest in scope date is 7 April 2000. If your employment in the same role is continuous and started before 7 April 2000, you will be given an opportunity to buy service to your original start date.
Q: I was eligible for the first options exercise as I had retained service within the period 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 only – will I be eligible this time?
A: If your FRA sent you a statement of service in the first options exercise you had an opportunity to join previously. This means that you may not be in scope for the second options exercise.
If your FRA only sent you an initial letter asking you to express your interest and did not provide you with a statement of service, you may be in scope this time.
What will I be entitled to?
Eligible retained firefighters will be able to buy pension service as a special member for some or all their employment between 7 April 2000 and 5 April 2006, as well as any continuous employment up to 7 April 2000 and/ or any continuous employment from 5 April 2006.
A retained firefighter transferring from one FRA to another without a break in service will be treated as having continuous employment with the second FRA.
When will I be contacted about my options?
The government is drafting the scheme rules which are needed to bring in the second options exercise in England (other devolved administrations are expected to follow suit as per the firs options exercise). These rules will be subject to consultation before they are laid before Parliament.
The government has a maximum period of 18 months to draft, consult, and introduce the scheme rules which are needed to bring the changes into law. This is expected to happen by 1 October 2023.
Once the changes become law, fire and rescue authorities will be expected to start the second options exercise and contact eligible members as soon as possible. The exercise will run for a maximum period of 18 months (October 2023 to March 2025) after it begins. Your fire and rescue authority will contact you at some point during this period and set out the options available to you.
Do I need to do anything now?
If you think you are eligible for the second options exercise, you should complete this form and return it to you fire and rescue authority by post or email, as soon as possible (also provide a copy to the FRSA).
This will help your (current/former) fire and rescue authority identify who is eligible.
If you are no longer employed, please make sure that your contact details remain up to date with your former fire and rescue authority so that they can contact you between October 2023 and March 2025.
As your union representative, we are here to ensure all eligible members receive their full entitlement. If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the FRSA via our website with your query.
Chief Executive Officer
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