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Flexible retirement

Flexible retirement

In line with pension scheme changes from USS the University is introducing the option of 'flexible retirement' for staff as part of its suite of flexible working practices in line with the ongoing needs of the University.

This option is immediately available for staff who are members of USS.  For the University of Reading Employees' Pension Fund (UREPF) this will be available from 1st August 2012 although applications can be made straightaway.

It is anticipated that these new arrangements will provide further flexibility to assist the University and its staff in managing our workforce, specifically in the area of retirement planning, which will help to avoid what is often a 'cliff edge' outcome for individuals, and also allowing the University to retain employees on a reduced working basis where it benefits both parties.

What is flexible retirement?

Flexible retirement is where a member of staff continues to work, but takes a reduction in salary, for example by working reduced hours, in exchange for payment of a portion of their pension.  This mix of work and pension can offer an attractive way of tapering towards an eventual full retirement.

You can take up to 80% of your pension benefits as long as you agree to reduce your hours and salary by at least 20%.  You can flexibly retire and change your working hours on a maximum of two occasions if you are a member of USS ahead of having to retire fully.  Members of UREPF can retire flexibly on one occasion before having to retire fully.  Your pension will be reduced for early payment if you are drawing it before your scheme's normal pension age.

Eligibility to request flexible retirement - USS

For the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), members have to be over the age of 55, have at least 2 years qualifying service and receive management approval.

Flexible retirement is currently not available to deferred members or multiple appointment members of USS.

Eligibility to request flexible retirement - UREPF

Members of the University of Reading Employees' Pension Fund (UREPF) have to be at least age 55 and receive management approval.

Where members have multiple posts, they may take flexible retirement by permanently giving up at least one post.  Management approval is not required in these circumstances.

Flexible retirement is not available to deferred members.

How do I apply for flexible retirement?

Both USS and UREPF require a minimum of 2 months' notice of an intended flexible retirement date.  With this in mind, individuals should allow sufficient time for the following process to take place and decisions to be considered fully.

The first step should be for the individual to explore with their pension scheme the financial elements and implications of flexible retirement.  The USS website has some very useful guidance documentation and also a modeller which allows you to receive an estimate including an allowance for early retirement reductions.

For more specific and detailed pension information please contact the Pensions Office who will facilitate your request for a personalised estimate for flexible retirement.

Members of UREPF can obtain an estimate either by contacting the Pensions Office or by contacting the administrators direct.

As well as exploring pension information, you may also require details on the impact of reducing your working hours on your salary.  Your HR Operations Administrator will be able to provide this to you.

Once you get an initial indication on the level of pension benefits you may receive, if you wish to explore the option of flexible retirement further, the next stage is to discuss the request with your line manager, Head of Department/School or Directorate.  You should allow as much time as you can for your request to be considered and implemented if approved.

Your case will also be discussed with your HR Partner / Advisor who will support your manager in the decision making.

How will my case be considered?

As with all requests for flexible working, managers will be encouraged to be open to such suggestions, but employees must appreciate the constraints that might demand a refusal or modification of the request, such as:

  • The burden of additional costs
  • A detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
  • The inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • The inability to recruit additional staff
  • A detrimental impact on quality or performance
  • An inability to match the hours requested with sufficient work
  • Planned structural changes

What if my request for flexible retirement is a mechanism to exercise a legal right to request flexible working?

As you will already be aware the University supports flexible working for all staff and where appropriate provides a process for requests to be made under the legal framework for staff who are caring for a child under 16, a disabled child under 18 or an adult dependant.

Flexible retirement may be an option for staff with the responsibilities identified above and therefore your request would be considered in this way.  The form through which you can request flexible retirement provides the opportunity for you to highlight this.

What will happen if my request is approved?

The completed form (with an accompanying Staffing Request Form) will be sent from your line manager, Head of Department/School or Directorate to Human Resources (via the appropriate approval routes) where both the Pensions and HR Operations team will take the necessary action to change your contract of employment accordingly and liaise with your pension provider.  You will receive a letter confirming this.

What will happen if my request is refused?

The completed form will be sent from your line manager, Head of Department/School or Directorate to Human Resources where on receipt you will be sent a formal letter confirming the decision.  If your request has been made under the legal framework, you will have the normal right of appeal.

Following the removal of the Default Retirement Age in October 2011, the University no longer provides notice of retirement to employees.  Therefore, if you choose to retire, you are encouraged to give a minimum of 6 months notice to ensure that all the administrative arrangements can be made as appropriate.

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