NHS Pension and flexible retirement options

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Piggy bank and retirement plan

22 / 4 / 2014 9.37am

This page brings together key information on the NHS Pension scheme and flexible retirement options available to the health visiting and other staff in the NHS workforce.

The Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011-2015 sets out a call to action to expand and strengthen health visiting services. Part of the plan focuses on growing the workforce, and considers retention initiatives, such as flexible retirement.

Many health visitors are approaching retirement. It is therefore worthwhile to ensure your health visitors are aware of, and understand, the various options available to them within the NHS Pension Scheme.

What is flexible retirement? 
Flexible retirement options 
Proposed changes to the NHS Pension scheme 
Age profiling 
Promotion of flexible retirement 
Best practice
Further information

What is flexible retirement?

Flexible retirement allows staff who are approaching retirement to alter their working pattern - using options within the NHS Pension scheme - to suit their personal needs. Where possible and when suitable, flexible retirement arrangements can help to:

  • retain experienced staff and valuable skills
  • maintain a pool of expertise
  • positively react to demographic change and the ageing workforce
  • provide greater employee flexibilities and opportunities.

When employees choose to apply for a flexible retirement arrangement, it is a matter for negotiation and should be considered and approved in line with service needs.

Flexible retirement options

The NHS Pension Scheme allows for staff to consider various flexible working patterns as they approach retirement. These flexibilities include:

  • wind down - work fewer days or hours within the current post
  • step down - move into a less demanding, lower graded role that still uses the staff member's experience and skills
  • retire and return to the NHS - on reaching minimum retirement age, staff can opt to retire, take all their pension benefits and then return to NHS employment
  • draw down - open to members of the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme - this allows staff to take a proportion of their pension benefits whilst continuing in NHS employment.

To find out more about these options, read our short guide on flexible retirement. The other pages in this section of the health visitor workforce hub bring together various tools and resources to help you consider options for retaining your valuable health visitors.

Proposed changes to the NHS Pension Scheme

As you will be aware the Government has proposed changes to the NHS Pension Scheme from 2015. Details of the latest developments can be found on our pension pages. Any proposed changes will not have an impact on an employer's ability to offer the flexibilities described above.

Age profiling

To help employers review the age profile of their health visiting workforce, NHS Employers has developed an age profiling tool which allows future projection based on different scenarios. Employers enter workforce data which includes current staff, new starters and those leaving. The tool then projects the future workforce, based on the information entered and assuming the patterns of leavers and joiners remain consistent.

Promotion of flexible retirement

There are many ways to promote the various flexible retirement options available to staff and making staff aware of their options in advance can assist with longer term workforce planning. Some ways to promote flexible retirement include:

  • posters and flyers in the workplace
  • messages via managers
  • discussions in annual appraisals
  • information on staff intranet, newsletters or other internal communications channels.

Best practice

Examples of good practice are available on our flexible retirement case study page.

Further information

The NHS Pension Scheme retirement flexibilities resource pack brings together various materials, including case studies and factsheets on the flexibilities  within the NHS Pension Scheme. It also includes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the pension scheme and flexible arrangements.

Our health visiting: what you need to know pages provide information on the Government reform and links to best practice.

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