Get 'pensions ready' this summer: Part four - discrimination and pension schemes

3 minute read
24 August 2015

Do you want to get 'pensions ready' in a month? For anyone new to pensions, or in need of a refresher, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co's 'Pensions in 30 Podcasts' online training tool is an essential guide.

During August, the firm's pensions experts are highlighting the topics covered by the new series via daily tweets and four themed alerts. In this fourth and final part of our August series of pensions alerts, we take a look at the subject of discrimination and pension schemes.

For more on this and the other podcasts and resources in Pensions in 30 Podcasts. The content is also available to view and download via iTunes and YouTube.

Discrimination and pension schemes

The UK's discrimination laws mainly originate from Europe, and in particular, the EC Equal Treatment Directive, EC Directive on Equal Treatment for Men and Women and the EC Race Discrimination Directive.

The Equality Act 2010 implements these directives in Great Britain. The relevant provisions of the Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010.

The Act consolidated and added to the majority of discrimination provisions in the UK that had previously been contained in various separate strands of primary and secondary legislation.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct discrimination and indirect discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

The protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act are sex, age, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation, gender reassignments, marriage and civil partnership, and disability.

With the exception of age, direct discrimination cannot be objectively justified, but indirect discrimination can be.

There are particular exemptions in the Equality Act that apply to pension schemes, notably in relation to age.

Trustees of occupational pension schemes are liable to their members or prospective members if they discriminate in terms of the offer of membership or benefits provided under the scheme, for example.

All occupational pension schemes are deemed to include a non-discrimination rule, regardless of what the rules say.

Find out more in podcast episode 21 which covers 'Discrimination: Overview', 22 on 'Discrimination: Age discrimination', 23 'Discrimination: Fixed term and part time workers' and 24 'Discrimination: Sex discrimination'.

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