Police to appeal against EAT decision on age discrimination

An appeal has been filed against the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) ruling that a regulation enabling police forces to compulsorily retire officers after they become entitled to a pension worth at least two-thirds of pensionable pay (typically after 30 years’ service) is not age discriminatory.

Police-EAT case-2015

The judgment in the case of Harrod and others v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and others was delivered on 8 July 2015.

In the case, the EAT overturned the employment tribunal decision that five police forces committed age discrimination when they liberally utilised the A19 rule, which allows forces to require police officers to retire once he or she is entitled to a pension of two-thirds of pensionable pay. This is generally the case after 30 years’ service.

Police forces’ adoption of the A19 rule increased as budgets were substantially cut and the forces had to find new ways, alongside traditional methods such as a recruitment freeze, to cut expenditure.

The employment tribunal originally found that the widespread practice of requiring officers to retire on these grounds was not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. It took into account that there were other ways in which the forces could have cut costs.

However, the EAT held that, while discrimination potentially occurred when the forces applied the. A19 regulation to retire police officers, the tribunal had been wrong to conclude that the forces’ actions were not justified.

The EAT stated that the tribunal had made a misguided attempt to propose alternative means of cost savings. None of the alternative means proposed had the required degree of certainty.

The claims were brought against the police forces of Devon and Cornwall, Nottinghamshire, the West Midlands, North Wales and South Wales.

A total of 15 police forces in England and Wales have made use of the A19 rule.

This follows the case of Sturmey v Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, in which the EAT returned the case to a tribunal for a re-hearing to consider whether redundancy dismissal, where the timing meant an employer avoided significant pension costs, could amount to age discrimination

Tim Jackson, chief superintendent, National Secretary of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said: An employment tribunal considered all of the issues in this case in considerable depth over the course of a 25-day hearing, before reaching a unanimous decision in favour of all the officers who made claims after being subjected to compulsory retirement.

”This case raises important issues concerning age discrimination, affecting not only police officers, but the public as a whole.

“The Police Superintendents’ Association will continue to support its members who were affected by the A19 exercise, and we are seeking the Court of Appeal’s permission to present our appeal against the judgment of the Employment Appeal Tribunal and for the decision of the Employment Tribunal to be reinstated.

“While the application for permission to appeal is considered, the association will continue to discuss the issue with its members and other interested parties.”