Understanding Injury on Duty awards
All of Scotland's firefighters are covered by the Firefighters' Compensation Scheme (Scotland). This means that (subject to qualifying conditions) if you sustain a serious injury in the execution of your duties as a firefighter that leads to a permanent disability, you could receive:
- a non-taxable Injury Pension; and a
- a non-taxable, lump-sum Injury Gratuity.
If you die as a consequence of an injury on duty, any resulting compensation can be paid to your dependants.
Although all whole-time, part-time, retained, volunteer and Reserve Forces Service firefighters are covered by the scheme (as well as some other employees in certain circumstances) the amount of Injury Pension you could receive depends on:
- the extent of your injuries
- your employment status
- your length of service and;
- your Scottish Firefighters' pension scheme membership status (you do not need to be a member of the pension scheme to qualify for an Injury on Duty Award).
You should note that Injury on Duty Awards are not approved in cases where the injury was wholly or mainly due to the firefighter’s own serious culpable negligence or misconduct.
How injuries on duty are assessed
Each injury on duty case is assessed individually by an Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner (IQMP). Their objective is to assess the level of long-term physical impairment sustained as a result of the injury.
Once the medical report has been received, the Firefighter, supported by a Human Resources Advisor, has 14 days (Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992) or 28 days (New Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006 & Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2015) from the meeting to confirm they're satisfied with the IQMP's recommendation. If not, there is an appeals process.
Once the IQMP's decision has been agreed, the level of compensation can be calculated.
The minimum income guarantee
The overall aim of the Firefighters' Compensation Scheme (Scotland) is to try to ensure that firefighters who sustain long-term injuries in the line of their duties receive a 'minimum income guarantee'. This amount is a percentage of the injured firefighter's average pensionable salary and that percentage depends on the extent of the firefighter's injury as assessed by the medical advisor and the firefighter's length of service at the time of the injury. The percentages applied are shown in this table:
DEGREE OF DISABLEMENT
MINIMUM INCOME GUARANTEE EXPRESSED AS A PERCENTAGE OF AVERAGE PENSIONABLE PAY
|Less than 5 years’ service||5 or more but less than 15 years’ service||15 or more but less than 25 years’ service||25 or more years’ service|
Band 1 Slight disablement(25% or less)
Band 2 Minor disablement(more than 25% but not more than 50%)
Band 3 Major disablement(more than 50% but not more than 75%)
Band 4 Severe disablement(more than 75%)
Each individual's minimum income guarantee is then composed of three elements:
- a presumed level of entitlement to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits
- a presumed level of entitlement to an ill health pension from one of the Scottish Firefighters' pension schemes
- an injury pension from the Firefighters' Compensation Scheme (Scotland).
It's important to note that two elements of the minimum income guarantee are presumed. If you don't apply for (or don't receive) the relevant DWP benefits, your injury pension element will still be calculated on the basis that you do receive them.
Similarly, if you're not entitled to an ill health pension from one of the Firefighters' pension schemes, a notional amount will still be assumed based on what you would have been entitled to if you'd been an active member of the pension scheme throughout your period of service.
How your annual injury pension is calculated
Calculate the minimum income guarantee
The first step is establishing your minimum income guarantee. This is calculated by multiplying your average pensionable salary by the percentage determined by the medical advisor's assessment and your length of service (see table above).
Deduct Firefighter's pension scheme entitlement
For this part of the calculation, the award is reduced by 75% of your Firefighters' pension scheme ill health pension before any lump sum has been taken.
For non-members of a Firefighters' pension scheme, 100% of your notional pension amount is deducted from your minimum income guarantee.
Deduct DWP benefits
Your DWP benefit entitlements relating to your injury (currently Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit & Employment & Support Allowance) are then deducted - even if you don't claim them. The maximum rate of benefit will be assumed and deducted in line with the Firefighters' Compensation Scheme Order (Scotland) Regulations, unless written confirmation from the DWP is provided to confirm otherwise.
Calculate injury pension
Once the relevant deductions have been made, the amount of injury pension payable can be calculated as a 'top up' to the level of your minimum income guarantee. Note that, in some cases, DWP benefits can exceed the injury pension minimum guarantee and, as a result, no injury pension is payable.
Annual Injury Pension calculation example
Firefighter A's injuries have been assessed as Band 3 and they have 24 years’ pensionable service. Therefore, Firefighter A is entitled to a minimum income guarantee of 75% of their £38,000 annual salary which is £28,500. In addition, Firefighter A receives a gross annual ill health pension of £15,000 per year and relevant DWP benefits of £2,000 per year.
Minimum income guarantee: £28,500 per year
Deduction for ill health pension: £11,250 (75% of a £15,000 gross pension)
Deduction for relevant DWP benefits: £2,000
Total deductions: £13,250 per year (75% of gross pension plus relevant DWP benefits)
Injury pension: £28,500 - £13,250 = £15,250 per year
The Injury Gratuity (Lump Sum)
The Injury Gratuity is a non-taxable lump sum paid in addition to the injury pension. This is calculated based on a percentage of your ‘average pensionable pay’. The percentage is decided according to your degree of disablement determined by the Medical Practitioner and is adjusted to reflect any part-time service you may have worked during your employment. The percentage entitlement for each band of disablement is shown in the table below.
% of average pensionable pay
Injury Gratuity calculation
Having been assessed as Band 3 with an average pensionable pay of £38,000 per year and 24 years of service, Firefighter A would receive a lump sum of £14,250 (37.5% of £38,000).
In the case of a firefighter who dies (or has their death hastened) as a result of an injury on duty, a Special Award may be payable to their spouse, partner or civil partner as well as to certain dependants. Each case is individually assessed.
Who administers Injury on Duty Awards?
Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) is responsible for administering and making payment of SFRS pensions, including approved Injury Awards. SPPA will contact the firefighter when the Injury on Duty Award is approved by SFRS and instructions to process are issued.
For more information on the application process please contact the Occupational Health Team (part of the SFRS HR directorate) on 0141 646 5412.
For more information about the Injury Award calculation or payment, please contact:
Injury Benefits Team
Scottish Public Pensions Agency
Telephone: 01896 893000 (ask for “Injury Team” when prompted)
Please quote your National Insurance number in all correspondence with the SPPA.