Flexible retirement is a flexibility regarding the age at which an employee retires, the length of time an employee takes to retire or the nature and intensity of work in the lead up to final retirement.
Flexible retirement arrangements will support your organisation to deliver the following benefits:
- retention of experienced staff with valuable skills
- greater choice for employees in how they approach their retirement
- the creation of a wider pool of expertise for recruitment (by including more older workers)
- a strategic and effective response to demographic change
- equality of opportunity and fairness for all employees.
Flexible retirement and the NHS Pension Scheme
The NHS Pension Scheme allows staff who are thinking about retiring from the 1995 or the 2008 section of the scheme to consider: wind down, step down and retire and return. In the new 2008 section staff can also consider draw down. These flexibilities can be summarised as follows:
- Wind down: as an alternative to retiring staff can opt to wind down by working fewer days or hours in their current post.
- Step down: staff who do not want to leave work altogether, but who would like to give up the pressure and responsibilities of their current role can step down into a less demanding lower graded (paid) post that still makes use of their skills and experience.
- Retire and return to the NHS: staff who have reached the minimum retirement age can opt to retire, take all their pension benefits and return to NHS employment. Options available include registering for the staff bank by taking retirement, then opting to work on an ‘as and when’ basis, giving an opportunity to pick and choose the hours worked.
- Draw down: this is only open to members of the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme. Draw down allows members to take part of their pension benefits whilst continuing in NHS employment.
Find out more about these options in our short guide to flexible retirement. NHS Employers have also developed an NHS Pension Scheme flexibilities pack which outlines how the retirement flexibilities available in the NHS Pension Scheme can be used to add value to the staff reward package and the employment offer.
Existing policies developed in this area
- 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust has developed a managing retirement policy.
- Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust has reviewed its retirement policy for staff and managers to reflect the NHS Employers guide to flexible retirement.
- East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has developed a retirement policy which outlines how the Trust has used the flexibilities available to offer staff maximum opportunity to remain at work until they are 70.
Examples of good practice are available from our flexible retirement case study page.