News

NHS Pension Scheme: continued suspension of abatement and the 16-hour rule until 31 October 2022

Information about changes to the temporary suspension of some NHS Pension Scheme regulations to support retired staff to return to the NHS.

14 March 2022

The government has confirmed that the abatement and 16-hour rules in the NHS Pension Scheme will continue to be suspended until 31 October 2022.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 temporarily suspended certain rules in the NHS Pension Scheme to support retired staff to return to the NHS during the pandemic without their pension being affected. As the Act is ending, these rules were due to be re-introduced on 25 March 2022.

Following concerns from employers and trade unions, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) consulted on proposals to extend these provisions. Employers have been clear that the suspension of these rules has helped to encourage retirees to return to work to support the pandemic response, and that the NHS will continue to face significant workforce pressures beyond March 2022. In our response to the consultation, we were therefore supportive of continuing the suspension of the abatement and 16-hour rules.

Read our response.

DHSC has now confirmed that these rules will continue to be suspended until 31 October 2022. This end date will be kept under review.

This consultation by DHSC comes in response to the feedback from NHS employers and trade unions expressing concerns that the measures are still needed to increase capacity during the ongoing pandemic response.

The NHS Pension Scheme rules that will continue to be suspended are:

  • The 16-hour rule in the 1995 Section – pension payments are temporarily suspended if an employee works more than 16 hours per week in the first month after retirement.
  • Abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Section – pension payments are reduced if an employee returns to work before age 60 and their earnings plus their pension exceed their pre-retirement earnings.
  • Abatement in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme for those who have drawn down a portion of their pension – pension payments are reduced if an employee who has taken part of their pension earns more than 90% of their earnings before the draw down.

Next steps for employers

The extension to these temporary easements will continue to support retirees to return to the NHS workforce without their pension being affected.

Before the regulations come back into force, employers will need to talk to affected staff to agree any changes to their working patterns. In some cases, employees may need to reduce their working hours or earnings so that they can continue to work without any impact on their pension. Further information is available on the NHS Pensions website to support these discussions.

We have published a range of resources to support you to have impactful conversations with your staff about how the NHS Pension Scheme can support staff to work and retire flexibly.