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Discrimination of employee arising from disability

The Supreme Court held in Williams v Trustees of Swansea University Pension that a disabled employee who had applied for ill-health retirement pension had not been treated “less favourably” under s.15 Equality Act 2010 when the amount calculated was based on his part-time salary because he was working part-time as a result of a disability at the date of retirement.

Mr Williams was disabled within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act. He worked for Swansea University and on his request the University made a number of adjustments including reducing his full-time hours to part-time.

Mr Williams became unfit to work and applied for an early ill-health retirement pension, which was accepted, however the rate at which the pension was being paid was based on his part-time salary as he was being paid at the date of his retirement.

It was argued by Mr Williams that the calculation of his ill-health retirement was unfavourable treatment arising in consequence of his disability as he was only working part-time as a result of his disability. The Employment Tribunal agreed with Mr Williams, however the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal disagreed.

It was held in the Supreme Court that the “treatment” complained of must be considered first, which was the immediate award of an ill-health early retirement pension. Mr Williams would not have been entitled to this had he not been disabled therefore he was not treated less favourably.

This case is helpful to those employers who have ill-health retirement pension schemes as it confirms the position that an employee will only be entitled to the rate of pay they are receiving at the time of their retirement.

If you are having a similar issue and would like some advice, our Employment team would love to talk to you. Please call them on 0113 849 4000 or email 

About the Author

Rajveer Basra


Rajveer is a Solicitor who works in the Employment team.

She advises employers, senior executives,…

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