ALL MEMBERS CIRCULAR 2014HOC0182DG - BUYING BACK PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PERIODS OF STRIKE ACTION
18th March 2014
TO: ALL MEMBERS
BUYING BACK PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PERIODS OF STRIKE ACTION
We understand that members in some fire and fire and rescue services have been informed by their employer that they will not be given an opportunity to buy back their contributions until after the conclusion of the trade dispute and at that time that members must register their wish to do so within 6 months of that date.
Such advice where given by a fire and rescue authority is inaccurate and may be based on a simple misreading of the regulations.
The accurate position is that members of the pension schemes will be entitled to buy back their lost service within six months having returned to duty following any period of absence (other than in respect of maternity, paternity or adoption leave) and must do so within six months of the return.
The specific rule in the 1992 Scheme is now to be found in Rule F2(3), as amended in 2006:
(3) A regular firefighter may, by written notice given to his employing authority within six months of returning to duty after a period of absence without pay (excluding absence for maternity, paternity or adoption leave), require them to reckon as pensionable service all or part of that period (the “reckonable period”).*
The specific rule in the 2006 Scheme is to be found in part 10 rule 4:
4.—(1) A firefighter member may reckon as pensionable service all or part of a period of absence without pay if he elects to pay the pension contributions that he and his 3 employing authority would have paid in accordance with Parts 11 and 13 in respect of that period if it had been a period of absence with pay.
(2) An election under paragraph (1) is to be made by written notice given to the employing authority not later than six months from the end of the period of absence without pay for which contributions are due.*
We are conscious that some members may have not registered their wish to buy back the pensionable service and that the opportunity to do so in respect of the earlier periods of strike action is extremely tight.
Therefore, if you wish to buy back the pension for the periods of strike action taken you are strongly advised to write to their employer by letter or via any regular internal memorandum protocol expressing the desire to do so without delay.
A template wording which has been checked with our legal advisers is attached for you to use. Ensure that you keep a copy of your letter and also, if possible, submit a copy of the letter attached to an email. This wording is should be used irrespective of which of the two firefighter pension schemes you are a member.
Please do ensure that the content of this circular is brought to the attention of all colleagues particularly those who may be off-duty at the time of receipt. A copy of this circular and the template letter is available on the FBU website: www.fbu.org.uk
In the event of further periods of strike action which takes place after the submission of the letter you submit at this time a further letter will need to be submitted at the time.