The Civil Service Compensation Scheme & age discrimination

Last updated: 22 Dec 2020

Members who receive reduced severance payments under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS), because they are at or close to, pension age may be able to bring claims of age discrimination in the Employment Tribunal.

Under the terms of the CSCS, compensation is capped at six months’ pay for those who receive voluntary exit, voluntary redundancy or compulsory redundancy payments after they have reached pension age and a tapering reduction is be made for those within 15 months of pension age.

This age-related treatment was held to be unlawful age discrimination in the recent case of Elliot v the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Ms Elliott, who took voluntary exit at the age of 63, received considerably less compensation than someone in similar circumstances aged 57. The tribunal did not accept that this difference in treatment was justified.

However, the judgment in that case is being appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, so we do not yet know whether a strong legal precedent has been formed on the point. And it is worth noting that other cases have previously ruled that there was no discrimination in similar circumstances.

Prospect is advising members to seek advice from us if they are accepting voluntary exit, voluntary redundancy or are being made compulsorily redundant and receive reduced compensation because they are at, or close to, pension age. They may be able to bring a claim of age discrimination to secure additional compensation.

This will apply to members covered by the CSCS and possibly to those in by-analogy schemes, where the scheme has been replicated following a transfer of undertaking.

There are currently several cases going through the tribunal challenging these rules in the CSCS, and there are likely to be some test cases being heard. Although much will depend on the outcome of the appeal in Ms Elliott’s case.

Legal claims must usually be started within three months of the end of employment, so if any members think they have a potential claim they should contact us as soon as possible. We will consider the individual circumstances of the case and advise whether a tribunal claim should be commenced to protect the member’s position pending clarification through the Elliott case appeal and other test cases.