Bacik welcomes renewed Government commitment on pension equality
Senator Ivana Bacik today welcomed the commitment given by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty that the government will introduce an amendment at Committee stage to the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017, published this week, to fulfil the provisions contained in Head 14 of the General Scheme of Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2017, published on 10th May 2017.
Head 14 in the Scheme had mirrored the provisions of the Pensions (Equal Pension Treatment in Occupational Benefit Schemes) (Amendment) Bill 2016, which Senator Bacik had introduced in the Seanad on behalf of the Labour Senators group on 22nd March 2017.
Senator Bacik said today:
“When the Scheme was published in May, I thanked then Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar for adopting the words of our bill, and placing them into his Social Welfare bill, in order to ensure equality for a small group of LGBT couples who have been denied equal treatment in pension rights.
“Head 14 of Minister Varadkar’s bill dealt with an important legacy issue, left over after marriage equality was passed by Referendum in May 2015. It addressed the small number of cases where retired employees who were legally not permitted to marry persons of the same sex before a particular date may be deprived of certain pension benefits.
“Our Labour Bill was drafted in response to the case of Parris v TCD (Case C-443/15, 24th November 2016) in which Mr Parris, a retired TCD lecturer, lost his challenge to his employer’s pension scheme before the Court of Justice of the European Union. He had argued that his TCD pension scheme was discriminatory, as it provided that a TCD employee’s partner would only be entitled to a survivor’s pension where the employee had married or entered a civil partnership before reaching the age of 60.
“Our Bill – as adopted by Minister Varadkar and further confirmed by Minister Doherty – represents a small but significant step towards rectifying a continuing discrimination against a small number of individuals, who face the same difficulty as David Parris under their pension schemes, despite the passage of the Marriage Equality referendum. I am delighted to have received confirmation from Minister Doherty this week that the measure will be included as a government amendment at Committee stage to the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 when that stage is reached in September, and I look forward to seeing the final text of the amendment then.”