Case study: Casual worker wins pension plan claim

In November 2010, the UK Pension Ombudsman rejected and overruled a decision taken by the Telegraph Media Group to exclude a former staff member it considered a casual worker from its pension scheme.

The ruling followed a claim by Glyn Roberts, who worked a regular Saturday shift as a sub-editor for The Sunday
for about 10 years from 1997. According to the National Union of Journalists, Roberts wrote to the night editor of the paper asking for the same pension, sick pay and holiday rights as full-time staff. But the Telegraph argued that Roberts was a casual worker and had no such rights. In 2006, a tribunal declared Roberts was a part-time employee rather than an as-and-when required casual worker. A written statement of his employment, outlining his entitlements to new benefits such as paid holidays, was given to him.

James Churcher, pensions manager at the Telegraph Media Group, told Employee Benefits: “The statement of his terms and conditions of employment said he was not a member of the Telegraph Staff Pension Plan, but that the company has a designated stakeholder for member contributions only and told him he could join that. The agreed statement was that he was not a member of the plan. He argued he should have been a member.”

Churcher said the rules of the Telegraph Staff Pension Plan stipulate that an employee can join as long as they are not regarded as a casual worker.

After Roberts was refused entry to the scheme, backed by the NUJ, he took his case to the Pension Ombudsman, which overruled the paper’s decision and told it to reinstate pension contributions from 2001, when a rule change dropped the minimum number of hours required to be worked for membership of the scheme.

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