Indirect Age Discrimination

29 July 2015

Is it indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of age to retire police officers entitled to receive a pension, in order to cut costs?

No, held the EAT in West Midlands Police v Harrod & Ors.

Police officers are not employees, and their office will only terminate (unless found guilty of misconduct or capability) upon retirement.

Regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 allows for retirement of officers who meet certain criteria, if doing so is in the general interest of efficiency.

Following the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010, police forces were required to make 20% cuts in their budgets over four years. Since 80% of their costs related to staffing Forces across the country looked to reduce staff numbers.

Using A19 clearly disadvantaged officers over the age of 48 and those affected argued indirect age discrimination. Indirect age discrimination is not unlawful if justified as being a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate aim.

Overturning the employment tribunal's judgment, the EAT found the only way the forces could be certain of a reduction in officer numbers was by use of A19, since there was no power to make a police officer redundant, and their actions were therefore justified.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin which provides the details of the case.