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Age-Related Benefits and Discrimination
A recent Employment Tribunal case has ruled that an employer had directly discriminated against one of its employees when it changed its permanent health insurance (PHI) scheme. The new scheme entitled employees to claim PHI payments up to the age of 65, rather than 55 - the age limit under the original scheme. However as a result of a health condition he was suffering from at the time of the move to the new arrangements, he was not included in the new scheme because the insurance company declined to indemnify any employee who was not actively in work on the implementation date of the new scheme.

Although the employer had argued that it had tried to apply a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim to reduce costs, the tribunal found that it was because someone younger was receiving the benefit, that the age discrimination had become apparent.

The finding of direct discrimination is likely to concern employers. It means that any similar restrictions on PHI scheme payments should be considered in the light of this judgment to determine whether there is a valid social policy objective, aside from cost considerations that would justify the difference. This case also demonstrates that employees of all ages must generally be offered the same PHI payment benefits.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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