What are retirement flexibilities?

Hospital staff

Flexible retirement allows organisations and staff to be flexible about:

  • the age at which staff retire
  • the length of time staff take to retire
  • the nature and pattern of work in the lead up to final retirement.

 What flexibilities are available?

  • Step Down - Staff can step down to a different role, for example, to reduce the level of responsibility while remaining in NHS employment.
  • Wind Down - Staff can wind down to retirement by remaining in their current post but reduce the number of hours or days they work.
  • Retire and return - Members can request to retire, claim their pension benefits and then return to NHS employment. The Department of Health have released guidance to help employers put policies in place to consider applications from staff.
  • Draw down - Members can take part of their pension benefits and continue in NHS employment.
  • Late retirement enhancement - Members can retire later than their normal pension age and have their pension benefits increased.
  • Early retirement reduction buy out (ERRBO) - Members or employers can pay additional contributions to buy out the reduction applied to the member's pension if they retire before their normal pension age.  

For a comprehensive list of these options including when they are applicable, please view the Working Longer Group retirement flexibilities factsheets.

Take a look at our guide to ERRBO which contains useful information to support your discussions with employees about their retirement planning, including:

  • a detailed explanation of what an ERRBO agreement is
  • points for individuals to consider when thinking about taking out an ERRBO agreement
  • a summary of the application process and timescales
  • an overview of the cost sharing arrangement available to certain ambulance service employees.
Further details about the costs of early retirement reduction buy out are available in a factsheet on the NHS Pensions website.

How can flexible retirement benefit my organisation?

  • Help staff work to a raised retirement age by varying the nature or pattern of work in the lead-up to retirement.
  • Assist succession planning by retaining valuable skills and experience which can be passed on to other staff.
  • Increase the amount of bank staff available to cover high demand periods.

Things to consider

  • Do your existing policies include retirement flexibilities?
  • Does your workforce planning incorporate retirement flexibilities?
  • How do you incorporate flexible retirement and retirement planning into appraisal discussions?
  • How do you support staff who manage individuals or teams to have retirement planning discussions with their staff?
  • How do you evaluate and manage requests for flexible retirement?

What are others doing?

Read our informative shared learning from different organisations on how they use flexible retirement, actions taken, the impact and what they plan to do next. 

If you use flexible retirement in your organisation and want to share your experience, please get in touch.

Where can I find out more?

Tools and resources - useful documents and links on flexible retirement.

Working Longer Group factsheets - comprehensive factsheets detailing what options are available and when they are applicable.

Checklist poster - view and download the Working Longer Groups quick reference flexible retirement options checklist poster.

Get in touch - useful contact information.

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Log In