You may recall that in Roberts v Aegon UK Corporate Services Ltd the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) was asked to confirm how pension loss should be treated where the dismissed employee, Ms Roberts, had previously been a member of the employer's final salary scheme. Following her dismissal, Ms Roberts did in fact obtain alternative employment which provided a better remuneration package in terms of salary and other, non-pension, benefits. However, in relation to pension provision, the new employment only offered her membership of and contributions into a money purchase scheme. Ms Roberts' new employment only lasted eight months and had been terminated by the time her claim against her previous employer was heard at Tribunal.
The Tribunal determined that although Ms Roberts' new employment had brought to an end any possible ongoing loss of earnings claim against her former employer, there was still ongoing pension loss by reason of the different nature of the pension provision. Therefore, Ms Roberts was still entitled to claim for loss of pension.
The employer appealed to the EAT on the basis that the Tribunal should have taken the same view for pension loss as for other loss of earnings and not separated out the two components. The employer argued that, taking into account the overall remuneration package offered by the new employer, Ms Roberts was still better off, despite the less favourable pension provision on offer.
The EAT agreed with the Tribunal's approach, stating that the Tribunal was entitled to decide that the loss of final salary pensions scheme was a very significant factor, the loss of which could not be quantified in purely monetary terms. Consequently, Ms Roberts was entitled to compensation for loss of pension for as long as her employment with her former employer would have continued. The employer again appealed, this time to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal is reported to have allowed the employer's appeal, by determining that a final salary pension scheme is not a unique benefit but, rather, an important part of the total remuneration package. Consequently, the EAT is not entitled to apply different tests to different aspects of the remuneration package.
The consequence of the court's finding in this case was that when Ms Roberts gained new employment elsewhere, this was a break in the chain of causation which meant that she could neither claim ongoing salary nor pensions-related loss.