A ruling in the UK's House of Lords has awarded part-time firefighters the same pension and sickness benefits as their full time colleagues in a landmark legal ruling.

The verdict from the UK’s highest court of appeal was described by the Fire Brigades Union as momentous. However the decision could have far-reaching consequences, as it paves the way for similar claims to be made by other part-time employees.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was quoted by the London Evening Standard as saying: We have received a copy of the judgment and are considering its implications. Ministers recognize the valuable work that retained firefighters do and the latest proposals for new pension arrangements for firefighters include for the first time provision for membership by [part-time] firefighters.

However while the ruling could open the way for thousands of workers to receive sick pay and pension rights, there are fears it could deepen the existing pension crisis in the UK.