The Pension Ombudsman's DecisionIn its determination, the Pension Ombudsman considered all of the facts and particularly took into account the following:
- Dr G choose to be made redundant and, in signing the application form for voluntary redundancy, she confirmed she understood that taking voluntary redundancy could affect her pension entitlement.
- In order to be eligible to for ill-health retirement under Manchester's sickness absence policy, Dr G would have needed to be:
- incapable of returning to her role with reasonable adjustments
- unsuitable for temporary or permanent redeployment
- unable to provide a return to work date within four weeks of the expiry of sick pay
At the time of her dismissal, none of this criteria had been met.
On the facts, therefore, the Pension Ombudsman determined there was no obligation on Manchester to raise the question of ill-health retirement with Dr G.
Best PracticeThe outcome of this matter was fact specific. It is clear from the Pension Ombudsman's decision, however, that Manchester's position was helped by the two factors noted above. In particular, it would seem that, had Dr G been eligible for ill-health retirement at the time of her dismissal, the outcome may very well have been different. Manchester's position was assisted by the detail in its sickness absence policy.
Whilst employers may not be under an obligation to raise the issue of ill-health retirement, we recommend employees are informed where decisions may have an impact on their pensions position in order that the onus is on them to take further advice.