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Part-time pension victory

THOUSANDS of part-time teachers can claim many years of pension benefits following a ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Up until 1994, many occupational pension schemes discriminated against part-time workers, by refusing to allow them to join. The Teachers' Superannuation Scheme admitted permanent part-timers but excluded those paid an hourly rate, writes Julie Henry.

When, in 1994, a European sex discrimination judgment ruled that occupational pension plans must be open to all workers, the National Union of Teachers entered several hundred applications for its members.

But under British law claims can only be backdated for two yearsand must be filed within six months of leaving a job. A consortium of unions, representing up to 60,000 UK part-timers, challenged these deadlines in the European Court of Justice. The unions won on the two-year limit while the court referred the six-month issue to the House of Lords.

The judgment will benefit thousands of the 15,000 part-time teachers although agency workers will not be covered.

A teacher with 25 years' service who worked part-time for 12 years, retiring on a salary of pound;24,000, will benefit by an extra pound;1,800 pension and a pound;5,400 lump sum, although they must first pay their own 6 per cent contribution to the scheme.

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