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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Women in part-time pensions battle
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House of Lords ruled in the women's favour last year
Around 60,000 part-time female workers on Monday will continue their bid for backdated pensions rights at an Employment Tribunal.


We should now be compensated for this discrimination

Fay Fox, a claimant

The women are claiming discrimination because they were unable to join their employer's pension scheme before 1995.

The proceedings, which could last for one month, are the latest in a long-running case, which began in December 1994.

Last year, the House of Lords ruled in their favour, following a European Court of Justice decision which ruled they could make claims for loss of pension rights to 1976.

Long-running case

The Employment Tribunal must now establish whether the women had a stable employment relationship with their employer.

Hearing ruled in women's favour
On 8 February 2001 the House of Lords ruled that part-time workers, who had been indirectly discriminated against, could make claims for pension rights dating back to 8 April 1976

If the applicants do not succeed on this point it would mean, for example, that teachers employed during term time on fixed-term contracts (and not paid for holidays) would have been expected to submit a claim at the end of each school term.

Catherine Thorpe, partner of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, a law firm that is acting on behalf of teaching union Nasuwt, said: "This would have been wholly impractical, particularly as before 1994, the women were not aware of their rights to pursue these claims."

The tribunal will also establish whether a break in service occurred when employees were transferred form local education authority employment to the employment of further education colleges.

Voluntary payouts

Many private sector employers have already decided to compensate workers following the House of Lords ruling.

The bank HSBC has already agreed to pay out 25m to around 3,500 women in similar positions.

The government, however, has refused to offer blanket payments.

Fay Fox, one of the claimants, has been battling for her pension for more than seven years.

"The government has accepted that its requirement that part timers had to work a proportion of full time hours in order to qualify for pension benefits had a different impact on men and women.

"We should now be compensated for this discrimination."

See also:

28 Mar 02 | Business
08 Feb 01 | Business
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