09 Jan 2019

Williams v Trustees of Swansea University Pension and Assurance Scheme and another [2018] UKSC 65

Facts

Mr Williams worked for Swansea University and was disabled under the Equality Act 2010 (the Act). He had reduced his hours from full-time to part-time before taking early ill health retirement at age 38. His pension was based on his final salary and was half what it would have been had he retired when he was working full-time. Mr Williams brought a claim arguing that basing his pension on his final salary rather than his salary before he reduced his hours was unfavourable treatment because of something arising from his disability, and was contrary to the Act.

Decision

The Supreme Court rejected Mr Williams' claim. Mr Williams had not been treated unfavourably because his pension was based on his part-time salary. There was nothing intrinsically unfavourable or disadvantageous about the award of a pension to an employee, to which he was only entitled because of his disability. Had he been able to work full-time, he would not have been entitled to a pension at all.

Comment

This is a helpful decision for employers and pensions schemes, and confirms that advantageous treatment cannot be unfavourable, even if it could have been more advantageous.