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The Pensions (Public Service) Act

Legal Scoop | Special retirement provisions for constables

Published:Sunday | February 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMShena Stubbs-Gibson/Contributor

The Pensions (Public Service) Act 2017 (the act) came into effect on April 1, 2018. It is very important legislation with far-reaching consequences. As such, The Legal Scoop has decided to sensitise readers to the implications of the law in a series of columns.

In previous columns, we looked at how the implementation of the act would affect the normal retirement age and early retirement age for existing and new public officers inside and outside the slated transition period. In this column, we will focus on the retirement provisions for constables as the act carves out special retirement provisions for that category of public servants.

Definition of Constable

To begin with, it should be noted that the act defines a constable as being any member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Early Retirement (Section 23)

The act provides that a constable may be granted early retirement in any of the following circumstances:

a. On or after attaining the age of 55 years.

b. On satisfactory medical evidence that he is incapable of discharging his duties efficiently because of infirmity of mind or body that is likely to be permanent.

c. Subject to the approval of the governor general, on or after attaining the age of 50 years after completing not less than 30 years of service.

d. At his option, after completing not less than 35 years of service.

The above provisions are the same as existed for constables before the passage of the act, save for (d.), which marks an increase of the threshold by five years. Compared to the rest of the public service, the above provisions also mark – generally speaking – a lower threshold for early retirement for constables, by five years.

Normal Retirement Age (Section 24)

There is no transition mechanism for the retirement of constables under the act, unlike with other public servants, and the act provides that the normal retirement age for constables is 60 years, five years less than that for the other categories of public servants.

Compulsory Retirement (Section 25)

The governor general may require any constable to compulsorily retire once he reaches the age of 55 years. This threshold compares to 60 years for the rest of the public service.

The Pensions (Public Service) Act 2017 marks a significant departure from the operations of the civil service as we have become accustomed to it over the years, and it behoves us to become better acquainted with it.

- Shena Stubbs-Gibson is an attorney-at-law and legal commentator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and shena.stubbs@gleanerjm.com, or tweet @shenastubbs.