On-call firefighters in England brought proceedings (in what has become known as the Matthews case) relating in part to their exclusion from the 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme, which was then provided solely to full-time firefighters. As a result of the Matthews case, on-call firefighters were allowed to join the 2006 Firefighters' Pension Scheme (“the 2006 Scheme”) from 6 April 2006.
(See Matthews v. Kent and Medway Towns Fire Authority  ICR 365)
Following the Matthews case, the 2006 Scheme was amended to give eligible on-call firefighters, employed between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 inclusive, retrospective access to the 2006 Scheme as “special members” (special firefighter members, special deferred members or special pensioner members).
Fire and Rescue Authorities in England (“FRAs”) then carried out an options exercise which opened on 1 April 2014 and closed on 30 September 2015 (“the first options
exercise”), which was intended to allow existing and former on-call firefighters with service between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 an opportunity to join the 2006 Scheme, as special members, subject to the payment of appropriate contributions in respect of their service during that period.
After the first options exercise closed, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled (in what has become known as the O'Brien case) on 7 November 2018, that a part-time fee-paid judge should have his pension backdated to include his service prior to 1 July 2000.
(See Case C-432/17 O’Brien v. Ministry of Justice ECLI:EU:C:2018:879)
How Does This Affect On-call Firefighters?
In order to provide a remedy to those on-call firefighters affected by the O’Brien judgment, a second options exercise will take place to provide access to the 2006 Scheme as special members to the groups of retained firefighters set out below, subject to the payment of appropriate contributions.
The second options exercise will provide access to the 2006 Scheme for those on-call firefighters who fall within one or both of the following categories:
(1) Were employed on any date between 7 April 2000 and 30 June 2000 (inclusive);
(2) Were employed on any date between 7 April 2000 and 30 June 2000 (inclusive) as well as on any date between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 (inclusive).
A Memorandum of Understanding was agreed on March 2022 between the Home Office, the Local Government Association, the Fire Brigades Union and the Fire and Rescue Services Association, setting out the parties intentions regarding the scope and operation of the proposed second options exercise.
The LGA have put together a Summary of Matthews for members illustrating how remedy might affect them.