Retained firefighters lose battle for pension rights

Beachcroft Wansbroughs and Littleton Chambers silk John Bowers QC have won the largest employment class action in British history.

The result will have a significant impact on part-time workers seeking to gain equal status to their full-time counterparts.

Beachcrofts successfully defended a claim brought by 25,000 so-called ‘retained’ firefighters (those who have other full-time jobs and work as firefighters in their spare time), who were seeking membership of the full-time firemen’s pensions scheme. The claim was sponsored by the Fire Brigades Union

The Employment Appeals Tribunal rejected the retained firefighters’ claim as they have different contracts to full-time firefighters and do different work. The tribunal also laid down guidelines on how the part-time workers’ regulation should be interpreted.

John Bowers QC of Littleton Chambers led Nicholas Chronias, the Beachcrofts partner who also handled the litigation. Brian Langstaff QC of Cloisters acted for the union, having replaced Gavin Millar QC of Doughty Street Chambers who handled the first instance action.