This section of the website is for firefighters who elected to become 'Special' members following the exercise that ended in September 2015. Essentially, the exercise offered retrospective pension scheme membership to firefighters who work(ed) the retained duty system between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006, and continued employment as either a retained firefighter, or have since become a regular firefighter after 6 April 2006.
As retained firefighters have only ever been allowed admittance of FPS 2006, the modified section of FPS 2006 aims to provide some of the benefits broadly comparable to FPS 1992 (the scheme that would have been available in July 2000, but which closed to new members on 5 April 2006).
Why 1 July 2000? This is the effective date of the 'Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000' - the legal case referred to in the settlement. FPS 2006 was amended in April 2014 to allow retrospective 'modified' membership for eligible retained firefighters who elected to join.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have been a member of the standard FPS 2006 (possibly since April 2006) and you have purchased the modified membership between July 2000 - if you were a retained firefighter at that time - and April 2006. In this scenario, you would have been given the option to leave your standard FPS 2006 as they were, or to convert them as well to modified benefits. Alternatively, you may never have been a member of FPS 2006 in respect of your retained duties, and so have just joined the scheme for the first time following your election to be a 'Special' member.
Again, depending on your circumstances, you would have joined the scheme either as a Special firefighter member (i.e. still in active service at the time you elected), a Special deferred member or a Special pensioner member. Your status will change when your circumstances do (e.g. you will become a Special pensioner member when you claim your benefits).
In addition to the three categories of membership above, the exercise also included individuals who ceased employment between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 in circumstances where an ill-health award would have been made or a death grant paid.
FPS 2006: Modified Retained Section is now closed to new members: no late applications to join will be considered.
- Membership was offered to retained (and former retained) firefighters employed in that role between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006, subject to the individual paying the requisite costs within the statutory timescales.
- Firefighters contribute between 11% and 17% of their pay depending on the amount of their pay.
- FPS 2006: Modified Retained Section is a 'final salary' scheme, which means that their pension is calculated as a proportion of their final pensionable pay. This is generally your 'reference pay' (reference pay is calculated by comparing the member's actual pay received in each scheme year (1 April - following 31 March) with the pay a whole-time regular firefighter in the same role with similar service would have received), averaged over the last 365 days of pensionable service. If, however, a higher pensionable pay exists in one of the two previous periods of 365 days, then that higher figure will be used to calculate the member's benefits.
- The pension that they will receive depends on their pensionable service which, for retained firefighters, is derived from their 'reference' pay. This method indicates the proportion of pensionable service to be used in each scheme year. Any service transferred from another pension scheme will also count towards pensionable service, as will additional scheme service purchased by the member to increase their benefits, or unpaid leave periods where the member has paid the contributions.
- FPS 2006: Modified Retained Section is funded by the contributions from firefighters and Fire & Rescue Authorities, topped up by central government.
- The normal pension age for members of the FPS 2006: Modified Retained Section is age 55.
- A pension granted to a firefighter because of ill-health is payable immediately from any age.
- A firefighter who leaves employment (or who remains in employment but opts out of the scheme) will be entitled to a deferred pension payable from age 60.
- Service for a maximum pension is capped at 30 years, with benefits building up at a rate of 1/45 of final pensionable pay for each year (this rate is intended to mirror the FPS 1992 where members accrue a pension of 1/60 each year for the first 20 years, with the following 10 years accruing a pension at the rate of 2/60 of final pensionable pay). This results in a maximum of 2/3 final pensionable pay following 30 years' service.
- Final pensionable pay is the whole time equivalent pay of a regular firefighter working in a similar role (known as reference pay) for the 365 days before retirement or, if either of the two preceding 365 days produces a higher pay figure, then that figure will be used to calculate benefits.
- There is an option to exchange ('commute') part of the pension for a tax-free lump sum. Pensions in payment are increased for inflation, so that they maintain their buying power.
- A lump sum death grant of two times a firefighter's pensionable pay (see the Death Benefits section for more details). A pension for a widow, widower, surviving civil partner, or cohabiting partner normally of half of the firefighter's pension entitlement (as if they had retired on ill-health grounds). If the spouse or partner is more than 12 years younger than the deceased, the adult survivor's pension will be reduced by 2.5% for every year in excess of the 12 years, to a maximum of 50%.
- Dependent children under the age of 23 may qualify for a pension.
- A Fire & Rescue Authority has discretion to retire a firefighter on the grounds that he or she is permanently disabled for the ordinary duties of a member of the fire service.
- If it is also determined that the firefighter is permanently disabled for any other regular employment, the benefits may be enhanced.
- An immediate pension and lump sum is payable to any firefighter at any age who is granted ill-health retirement.
- The issue of permanent disablement is determined by a doctor and there are appeal rights against medical decisions.
- Ill-health pensions are increased for inflation throughout their payment.
- Fire & Rescue Authorities have discretion to review the payment of ill-health awards at intervals.
- Even if a firefighter is judged to be permanently disabled, it does not automatically follow that they will be granted ill-health retirement. Their Fire & Rescue Authority will consider whether there are alternative duties that they could perform and still remain in the service (taking account of their overall capabilities).
- There are separate arrangements for the payment of injury awards to firefighters who are permanently disabled as the result of an injury on duty, which are outside the FPS 2006: Modified Retained Section.
- There is a facility to buy more service in the scheme if a firefighter cannot accrue 30 years pensionable service by age 55. A firefighter can only purchase additional service if they are under 53 at the time of applying.
- If a firefighter builds up pension rights in the scheme but leaves the Fire & Rescue service (or opts-out of the Scheme) before retirement, they will be eligible for a 'deferred pension' payable at age 60.