Part-time soldiers take on the MoD over pension rights

Perhaps this could lead to the end of TA soldiers (and their RNR and RAuxAF counterparts) being classed as "casual labour".,,1980728,00.html

Part-time soldiers take on the MoD over pension rights

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday December 31, 2006
The Observer

A test case in Northern Ireland involving the pension rights of up to 1,000 part-time soldiers could cost the Ministry of Defence tens of millions of pounds.

If the troops from the soon-to-be disbanded Royal Irish Regiment win their legal fight for a pension, then Territorial Army soldiers will be entitled to the same rights.

The soldiers, based in Northern Ireland, are challenging their exclusion from military pension schemes, citing a new EU directive that gives pension entitlements to part-time workers. Dozens of cases will be heard in early 2007 in Belfast.

Lagan Valley Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson, whose younger brother Kingsley is a full-time RIR soldier and who has served in Iraq, is championing their cause. Donaldson agreed that, if the soldiers were successful, then it would have implications for TA pensions rights.
'I suppose that is why the MoD is vigorously defending its policy. They don't want the TA to get pension rights. But there are sound legal and moral reasons why the part-timers of the RIR should get pensions.

'On the legal front they are taking the cases under the EU directive. They will argue that they can be classified as part-time workers too. Morally the government and the MoD owe these soldiers a great debt. They served in the most dangerous part of Europe as British soldiers and because they lived and worked in the community they were more vulnerable to murder by terrorists. The soldiers who held down day jobs while serving in the regiment were the most vulnerable of all.'

Donaldson said the test cases might also allow former part-time soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment, disbanded in July 1992, to sue for retrospective pension rights.

An MoD spokesman said the ministry could not comment on the case, for legal reasons. However, it is understood the MoD will oppose pension rights for part-time soldiers on the grounds that while in the RIR they did not pay contributions like full-time troops did.

Three of the four RIR battalions, 3,500 troops, are to be disbanded under the government's plans to demilitarise Northern Ireland. The part-time RIR troops will officially lose their jobs today. As part of their retirement package they are being given a tax-free sum of £14,000 each. The full-time soldiers will leave the regiment with a £28,000 tax-free retirement package, plus their pensions.

I am amused by the MoD claim that part-time soldiers do not pay contributions as full-time soldiers do. A bare-faced lie. The regular daily rate is paid pro-rata according to days served.
Funny statement from the MOD :roll: During the Biddiss/Manning Control case, the MOD's line of defence sorry :oops: Party line. Was that regular soldiers do not pay contributions so were not robbed of 12 years worth of pension contributions when forced out early. The RIR solicitors need to get the mentioned case evidence. :wink:
There are 3 explanations for the pension:

1. It is non-contributory. (Biddiss/MCP above)

2. It is contributory. (MoD spokesman in article quoted above)

3. It is sort of contributory and sort of non-contributory, as the military salary is reduced by an amount commensurate to a pension contribution.
This is what I was told on joining full-time.

Whatever applies to the regular applies to the reservist, as the same military salary is paid. The question is - which is the truth? Can MoD perjure themselves by trotting out contradictory arguments?


Where's the money going to come from? I appreciate that the TA may feel quite put upon, especially in recent years, but the money has to come from somewhere. If they are basing their claim upon deployment service only, then what about those who haven't deployed and in all fairness, won't either (My brother's TA unit is full of them so he tells me).

What about the TA Bounty? Will they expect to keep that as well.

Before anyone kicks off, this isn't an invite for an argument or exchange of 'personal insults', it's a genuine question. Where will the money come from? What knock back will it have upon Regular soldiers. The Head Shed is upset that he's been told to choose between equipment and housing, so what will the Regulars have to go without if this case is won?

If this is won, I would expect to see a 'contributary' pension for the Regulars in the future. I can't see how else they are going to cover the cost. Will Regular service personnel suffer yet another kick in the teeth?


War Hero
Biscuits_AB said:
Where's the money going to come from? What about the TA Bounty? Will they expect to keep that as well.

I think that persons who are mobilized should have some pension provision - seems reasonable, as (belive it or not) mobilization can cause problems for bounty qualification for some people.

As for non-mobilized bods, think this is quite different. Here, I expect it would be funded by a reduced bounty. I don't think it would be necessary to scrap the bounty - a pension based on 30 days' sevice a year isn't going to be hugely expensive. Also, I presume the TA pension would be worse than the regular one - TA can serve a lot longer than 22 years, and it would only be fair to allow for this.

If pensions are introduced, I'm not sure that there'll be a major net gain for most of the TA, expect perhaps in respect of periods of mobilization.


It'll be interesting to see how this pans out, but whilst I can sympathise with the TA situation, my concern would be for the knock on effect upon the Regular Forces. The money, irrespective of how little or not, has to come from somewhere. Where will that cash come from?
Any money for a pension for the TA would undoubtedly come from the same pot of money the bounty is paid from. I suspect the ‘5 year’ enhance bounty would soon disappear or the bounty just not rise with inflation full stop. I could also see a cap placed on training days so that only the first 35 were pensionable or some other bull sh*t measures. The bean counters would soon claw the money back one way or another, after all any pension would be unlikely to be paid prior to 65. Even based on a TA soldiers average 35 days a year wage from 18 to his 55th birthday any pension is hardly likely to equal what a TA soldier might loose from his pay packet to fund it.
I can't se it happening, this would open the floodgates to all part time workers, bus drivers, weekend care workers etc. I was in NI over the christmas period and from reading the newspapers it appears that they are all litigation mad. Check out the "portrayal of contemporary art as terrorism" the defence used by Stone. Many people over there tend to have liberalising European views when it comes to playing the "legal" system, thankfully the NI Judiciary is founded on common sense in cases such as this one
Mind you if they hired Cherie B and the TA tried it over here who knows what favours could be fixed.
Tytus - it is the other way around, employment legislation from the 70's excluded part time workers from the benefits it gave to full time ones. Blair’s Govt has brought in a raft of legislation over the past nine years giving part time workers the same rights as full time ones. Good Labour party principle - Bugger the cost to industry just appease our TU paymasters. The Civil Service either didn't warn them or more likely did warn them and were ignored, that the Government, National and Local would have to pick up the bill for all it's part timers. Several groups have already won their claims through industrial tribunals for pro rata treatment with their full time colleagues, not just for pensions but also for holiday pay, maternity pay, sickness pay etc.

There are several court cases in process at the moment asking for the law to be applied to the Armed Forces. The Govt removed Section 10/ Crown Immunity and therefore anything they impose on private industry must be applied to government service. Sadly Government Depts have been slow to appreciate the new reality, and still act as though they can ignore the law. The Dof E fought a very expensive battle with the Unions over Dinner Ladies, expensive because the legal bills were huge (the Taxpayer pays these bills so there is no initial cost benefit analysis) and the eventual ruling decided that the rights should be backdated to the early 70’s. If parity had been introduced straight away, the D of E could have worked out its own rules within the law and probably not have had to backdate anything. The MOD should take the hint, sadly the culture of they can’t make us do this, we are the Civil Service is so ingrained that they will spend twenty times more than they should on fighting the matter rather than on resolving it with due note to the law.

I should state my place in this. I am a Territorial with nearly 34 years service, I worked for a major UK company in their Personnel Dept and in Production, and I have run my own small business employing mainly part time labour. I read the Party Manifesto in ’97 and sold my business because the proposals spelt out Bankruptcy or ignore the law and risk going to jail. I see no reason why the Government should not abide by the laws which it has made.
Folks, just correct a few inaccuracies in this thread. I feel best placed to do so as I am intimately involved in this case.

Firstly the part time soldiers taking this case are not members of the TA. They are Regular Army (Part Time) - a category created on 01 Jul 92 when the Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish Rangers merged to form today's Royal Irish Regiment.

Secondly, The initial cases started in 2001 when 27 or 28 cases were lodged in the Belfast Employment Tribunal. Since then the MoD have wittlled them down to 9 remaining cases (using 'out of time' or 'no redresses lodged first' tactics etc.)

Thirdly, if we win, the question of where the money comes from is a good question. But were does the rest of the Regular Army pensions etc come from? Central Treasury of course.

Fourthly, The PT R IRISH soldiers are paid the same rate of pay as the rest of the Regular Army and have the same 7% abatement taken from their pay as the rest of the Reg Army. So, if the pension is deemed as 'contributary' (the 7% abatement) then these PT R IRISH soldiers have already made their contribution - but they are being specifically denied the pension they have contributed to!

Fifthly, It has taken nearly 5 years to get these original cases into a Tribunal hearing which will only examine the "employment contract" issue first. I.e. are Home Service Full Time and Part Time on the same type of contract? (Note - Full Time are getting the full Reg Army Redundancy package + £28k) There are other issues which will be decided at later hearings.

Sixthly, When the announcement was made to disband the Home Service Battlaions it was unclear if there would be any obligation on the MoD (assuming they lost the original cases) to pay lost pensions/leave/etc to PT soldiers after they have been discharged. Legal advice was therefore taken and that is why over 1,163 (MoD figures) have submitted Redresses and lodged IT1s with the employment tribunal in Belfast. It is a procedural process that has had to be gone through. These cases will be 'stayed' pending the outcome of the original cases.

Finally, These PT soldiers are not asking for anything more that what the law says they are entitled to. Yes, the big fear the MoD has, is the TA also taking and winning this argument for pensions. That is something the TA will have to take up - Finian Manson has already kicked this off but at present I do not know where that case lies.

I suspect however that the TA has a less strong case that the PT R IRISH because the TA fall under the Reserve Forces Act and there are exclusions within the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Unfavourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 which excludes them. But read Finian Mansons cases.

The PT R IRISH however are governed under QRs and the Army Act so they are not excluded from the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Unfavourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 . The MoD did try to get them excluded in the NI legislation in 2000 but no-one in the NI Gov actioned the request so the NI law was published without excluding the PT R IRISH. By default therefore, the law applies to the PT R IRISH.

PT R IRISH are continuosly 'called out' for service; they are subject to military law 24/7; their committment is to do 15 trg and 60 ops duties in a year - many did more.

Errrr... that's it for now!


Are you sure that PT R IRISH are subject to military law 24/7? I only ask as you used to stay away from your unit, when I was chasing you for fiddling your RES to POD......which was a recognised Battalion sport with some of you.
When I did my Senior Rates Command Course, we had one of the pay wallah's come in and give us a quick dit about finance etc due to us being Divisional Senior Rates.

Seemingly, to get the same sort of pension in civvy street, you would have to put away a minimum of £300 a month from the age of 18. So, in effect, the regular's pension is worth £3600 a year for 365 days service to the Crown.

After 5 years in the TA, reservists get £1506 for 27/19 days dependant on your unit. Yes, I am fully aware that people put a lot more time in than the minimum and deploy. However, we are talking almost half the amount of a regular serviceperson 'contributes' to their pension fund for around 13% of the time. I think that is quite generous and if people are so aggrieved about the lack of a pension, there's nothing stopping them from putting that lump sum into a pension fund.
Naw... you got us Part Timers confused with the FT who slept in base but claimed RESPOD from as far away as possible every day!

As for the 24/7 - yes all R IRISH were subject to Military Law 24/7 as they were called out by the SOS NI who delegated it to COS HQNI and it appeared on NIROs and P1Os in Bns!

I agree with you that there was some irregularities going on but doesn't it happen in all units?


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
TA officers are subject to Military Law and discipline '24/7' and all membners are capapble of being called up - which is one of the reasons that I resent the 'casual' slur from the MoD.
I did not realise that there was a distinct difference between the "part time soldiers" of the UDR/RIR etc and the TA, and I hope that the NI part-timers are successful. Likewise, I hope that any action by serving or ex-serving TA succeeds, athough the legal issues appear to be different.

As to "who pays" - the answer is simple. HM Treasury. There should be no agonising over the impact on other areas of defence expenditure as there should be no impact. This may seem over-optimistic (to say the least) but MoD penny-pinching is in the public eye as never before. Reservists are not "casual labour", and their military salary is the same as that of regulars on a pro-rata basis, with a notional reduction to count towards pension contributions.

The bounty is a recruitment, retention and (in particular) a training tool. You have to qualify through training and attendance (and bizarrely operational service does not count!) and the bounty is clearly not a part-replacement for a pension or any other regular terms and conditions of service.

My view is simple - reservists should get exactly the same benefits as regulars, albeit pro-rata, funded properly by HMG.
SKNN - TA officers are subject to military law at all times because we hold a commission from the Queen. We may be casually employed, but our commission implies duties.


War Hero
Can someone put into pounds and pence just what the pension would be worth for TA soldier, say the above average one who does say 50 days a year, for 10 years, which is only 500 days, say less than 18 months. Equate that to a civ pension for 18 months with a company, is slightly more than f*** all. Even for a long serving TA soldier (an increasing rarity these days) who gets at least one tour in, I cannot conceivable see how it can equate to much. 15 years at 50 days is only 2 years, plus a 6 month tour, still is not much to write home about. Less and less soldiers last for longer than 5 years so with a demand to serve a minimum period, I don't see it being a big strain on the government budget, certainly less than the cost of fat tw*t 2 Jags' grace and favour home in London, or the cost to the taxpayer for Bliars freebie holidays !!!


The pension fiddle that grips me was the quiet movement of the goalposts regarding reinstatement of regular pensions on mobalisation...

In '04 I was able to opt to enhance my existing military pension for my op tour. The deal was that you got your pension uplifted to half the difference between your pension when you left regular and the pension you would have got had you retired at the end of your tour. The alternative was that the MOD would pay your civvie pension contributions while you were called up.

Apparantly this has now been done away with... you can now only have your civvie pension paid or contribute to some mickymouse "TA pension".

Anybody got any idea why the change? Yet another attempt to pi** off the TA?


Book Reviewer
If you look back in the TA Thread, this matter - Pensions for the TA - has been a source of considerable debate over the last couple of years, and this continues.... Check out some interesting debates here:

I may be able to clear up a couple of points raised here though:

From SKNN:
"TA officers are subject to Military Law and discipline '24/7' and all members are capable of being called up - which is one of the reasons that I resent the 'casual' slur from the MoD."

Not for much longer. Changes in the law were introduced in the last Armed Forces Bill to bring TA Officers into line with TA SOldiers. The 'subject to Military Law 24/7' will go for Officers as soon as they can get TA Regs amended or whatever else has to be done.

"... you can now only have your civvie pension paid or contribute to some mickymouse "TA pension".Anybody got any idea why the change? Yet another attempt to pi** off the TA?"

Probably to do with the fact that the 'old' Pension scheme, under which you presumably did your 22 years or whatever has been replaced with the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme (or whatever it is called). I am not sure how it affects those Mobilised but I do know that this is not good news for anyone with a 22 year Pension under the 'old' scheme who wants to do FTRS. You'll be in the new scheme, in effect starting from scratch, rather than adding to your '22' pension, as used to happen. An unforeseen consequence of changing the Pension? And some people wonder why the new pension was not universally popular.... as ever, thanks to that nice Mr G Brown, our next PM.

In the immortal words of K Brockman: I for one welcome our new Insect Overlords.
This argument will be decided by the interpretation of complex employment law by lawyers and not by anything resembling common sense or justice - after all, that's what "rule of law" means. The RIR in NI were treated differently to the TA and hence any judgement may well not be read across - indeed I'd be amazed if it was.

"Casual Worker" is not a slur, it is a precise definition of a particular employment relationship. "Part-time Worker" is another definition. Now casual labour means you turn up if you feel like it but with no guarantee of work and minimal benefits, part-time means like full-time only with fewer hours with benefits pro-rata. (Apologies to any employment lawyers reading for that glib summary of a very complex subject). Hence the definition of the RIR as Regular Army (Part-Time) is significant.

Traditionally the TA has been casual labour, as this makes it cheaper for the MoD, it reduces issues over the TA clashing with soldier's main employment, soldiers can cry off a weekend at short notice without dramas and if the unit cancels a weekend they don't need to pay the soldiers.

A move to part-time status may well be in keeping with the greater use of the TA - but then pro-rata full-time benefits must be paid, or you fall foul of the law. The question of where the money comes from is irrelevant, the MoD has to pay up or go to court just like any other employer. As discussed below this is a fairly recent change and has not been popular with employers.

Of course if the TA is part-time rather than casual then the justification for its existence mostly disappears - why not just let regulars reduce their hours and recruit more of them - and it creates real problems for civvy employers with TA soldiers on the books.

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