To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he proposes to make any changes to the arrangements whereby teachers can cover for pension purposes periods when they are on strike.
At present teachers who go on strike can safeguard their pensions using arrangements designed to protect teachers whose pensionable employment is interrupted for other reasons. They can elect under what are known as "current added years" arrangements to maintain pension cover during their absence by paving the employer's and employee's contributions which would have been paid if pensionable employment had continued — at present 15·45 per cent. of salary. The cost of pensions increase (index-linking) is borne by the Exchequer. I have come to the conclusion that teachers who decide to withdraw their services by striking should no longer be able to take advantage of these arrangements. Under amendment regulations which I have today issued for consultation to representatives of the local authorities, and teachers, I propose to restrict the opportunities that teachers who go on strike will in future have for covering their absences for pension purposes.The effect of the amendments I am introducing will not prevent teachers altogether from covering these absences. To do so, however, they will need to meet the full cost (including pensions increase) under what are known as "past added years" arrangements. The regulations specify a minimum period of 30 days which may be covered in this way, except at the point of retirement when teachers will be able to cover any period by deduction of contributions from their lump sums.