February 1, 2013

Voluntary severance scheme not age discriminatory

In Lockwood v DWP, the EAT has held that a civil service voluntary severance scheme which paid older leavers more than younger leavers was not unlawful direct discrimination on the grounds of age.

The Claimant jointed the civil service at 18 and left under voluntary severance nearly 8 years later. A colleague aged over 35 with the same service also left. The Claimant's severance payment was 61% less than her colleague and she brought a claim of age discrimination.

The Tribunal held that her comparator was not properly comparable, noting the greater comparative difficulties that older workers face when losing work, and found that the Respondent’s policy of making higher payments to older leavers to provide financial security was objectively justifiable on the facts.

Notably, this EAT decision was after the Supreme Court decision in Seldon; the Tribunal case was decided before Seldon.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.

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