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Same-sex partners entitled to equal pension benefits

BY Sophie Macphail
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

The Supreme Court has delivered a landmark ruling on equality of pension benefits for same sex couples, ruling that they should have the same rights as straight couples. The claimant successfully argued that any survivor's pension payable to his same-sex spouse should be based on his entire pensionable service, as it would be if he were in an opposite-sex marriage.

Mr Walker worked for Innospec Limited from 1980 until 2003, when he retired. He and his partner had entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and later married. Mr Walker was told by his employer that, as his entire pensionable service was prior to the implementation of the Equal Treatment Framework Directive, his spouse would receive a smaller amount than an opposite sex spouse would have received.

The court held that the right to an equal survivor's pension should be assessed at the point that it becomes payable. At that point, "denial of a pension would amount to discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation" and Mr Walker and his spouse’s entitlement should be calculated including his years of service before the Directive was implemented

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