Shifting the link between public sector pension schemes and final salaries to a career-average earnings option could hit female retirees hardest, experts say.
Lord Hutton this week said the current method of basing workers' pensions on their final salary was "inherently unfair".
In his interim report, he said it might be more equitable to link pension payouts to people's career average earnings instead.
But some experts say this move could represent a double blow for female public servants because women are both more likely to take career breaks and earn less than men.
Jennie Kreser, pensions partner at London-based lawyers Silverman Sherliker, says: "There is a possibility of discrimination against women with career average schemes, despite the protections within maternity rights."
Kreser says inequality also exists in final salary schemes, but argues the effects are worse in a career average set-up.
She says the government should not discount the merits of some pension schemes which are currently illegal in the UK, such as pooled money-purchase DC structures.
However, others claim the career average model may actually benefit the majority of women, particularly those who do not take extended career breaks.
IFA Anna Sofat, director of Addidi Wealth, says: "Most women working in local government, for example, will spend the majority of their careers in the lower or middle pay brackets.
"Men are likely to have more rapid promotions, particularly towards the end of their career, so a final salary scheme for men is likely to be better than a career average."
Sofat adds she would still advise her clients to stay in public sector schemes as they represent a far lower cost option than those available in the private sector.
Financial planner Zac Ghadially, of Yellowtail Financial Planning, says career average schemes may not be more detrimental for female public sector workers at all, depending on how the scheme is run.
"It depends on how you define career average," Ghadially says. "It can be worked out on a full-time equivalent basis, so for women who may take career breaks or work part-time gaps in employment might not make any difference."
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