This guidance provides you with information on your retirement options at the College for active and deferred pension scheme members and advises on ways we can assist and support you to plan for, and adapt to, the prospect of retirement.

When can someone retire?

If in good health
If in poor health
  • At any time after your 55th birthday*.

*Some SAUL members may be able to retire after their 50th birthday.

Note: the earlier the retirement, the lower the pension will be.

  • At any time;
  • After service of at least 2 years;
  • If the College and the relevant pension scheme agree the person is too ill to continue to work. 

 Note: Process must be started by referral to Occupational Health

Can someone take their pension and continue to work at the College?

Yes. But only with the prior agreement of their Department, and they must have a reduction in hours and/or salary.

What are the options?

Partial retirement (all schemes):
  • Take full USS/SAUL/NHS pension immediately. 
  • One full calendar month break between retirement date and return to work date.
  • Part-time only: max 0.5 FTE. 
  • Maximum 3 year contract.
Flexible retirement USS:
  • Take between 20% and 80% of pension immediately. 
  • No break in service.
  • Reduce hours or salary by a minimum of 20%.
  • Full retirement must usually follow within three years of Flexible Retirement.
Flexible retirement NHS:
  • Take between 20% and 100% of pension immediately.
  • No break in service.
  • Reduce hours or salary by a minimum of 10%. 
  • Full retirement must usually follow within three years of Flexible Retirement.

 

Whilst considering your options, it is important to read the full guidance in the tabs below.

Retirement Options

Staff Guidance

You are free to decide when you wish to retire once you have reached 55. You may wish to discuss with your Line Manager whether it might be possible to reduce your working hours in the run up to full retirement and access your pension flexibly.

The timing will depend on a number of factors both work-related and personal. Your own personal circumstances, your financial position, whether your role can be undertaken in a flexible way and what work life balance you aspire to will be a big influence. Please note if your role is revised this is likely to result in a change to your terms and conditions.

Full Retirement

Most staff can retire, stop working at the College altogether, and access their pension from 55, although the government plans on increasing this to 57 in 2028. However, if you are retiring before age 66 (or for some staff, before age 60) your pension will be reduced (this is because your pension is expected to be paid for longer than it would have been).  You can obtain an estimate of your expected pension by contacting the HR Staff Hub. Regardless of your contractual notice period it is advisable to give three months’ notice to enable all the paperwork to be processed in good time to avoid payment delays.

If you intend to retire you need to complete an online leavers form via the HR Portal.

Flexible Retirement

If you are an active member of the NHS scheme, or a USS member and are aged 55 or over, you have the option of accessing a proportion of your pension and lump sum while continuing to work, but with either reduced salary or a reduction in hours. You are able to flexibly access your pension twice whilst continuing to work before retiring finally.

NHS USS

Salary must be reduced by a minimum of 10% at each flex. This can either be by reducing working hours (e.g. working 10% fewer hours a week) or by reducing your salary (e.g. by giving up an allowance you currently receive that is at least 10% of your overall salary)

Can draw between 20% and 100% of pension (from 1/10/2023) 

Salary and working hours must be reduced by between 20% and 80% at each flex

Can draw between 20% and 80% of pension

SAUL do not currently offer the option of flexible retirement.

The decision on how much pension to access is yours but bear in mind pension payments are taxed, as is your salary from the College.

You will need the consent of your department.  Your line manager will need to consider the impact of your proposed work pattern on the department. So that they can do this you will need to give a proposal on how your work can be delivered.  You may need to be flexible here and there might need to be some give and take on both sides Your department will also need to agree the date your flexible retirement can commence along with the reduction of working hours and/or salary before approval can be granted.

If a flexible retirement request is approved, the requirement will be that it will only be agreed as part of a package that will include a final retirement normally within three years, but exceptionally up to five years. This is in consideration of the need for succession planning, resource planning and ensuring that the needs of key stakeholders and operational requirements are met. Any agreement to retirements beyond three years must have the approval of the Faculty Dean or Director of Support Services along with the Director of Human Resources.

Once approved, the arrangement will constitute a formal agreement between you and the College to vary your contract terms and conditions and for your final retirement to take place on, or before a specified date.  If you decide to leave before the specified date, your normal contractual notice will continue to apply.  Full retirement will therefore commence within three years of the start of your flexible retirement period and the first time you flexibly access some pension. Any further flexes must be within this specified date.

If you wish to request flexible retirement, you need to complete a Flexible retirement form and email it to your Line Manager, Head of Department and Departmental Operating Manager for their consideration.  If your request is successful, your line manager will pass the form to Human Resources for processing. You will then receive confirmation in writing.  If your request is unsuccessful your line manager will let you know and will explain the reasons why. If your request was unsuccessful you may not make another request until one year has passed.

Partial Retirement

In some circumstances you may be able to draw all of your pension and be rehired on a new contract. If you are retiring before age 66 (or 60 for some) your pension may still be reduced. You can check your retirement age and request a quotation by contacting the HR Staff Hub.

You will need the consent of your department.  When considering if they can accommodate your request they will take into account whether this fits with the operational needs of the department. So that they can do this you will need to give a proposal on how your work can be delivered.  You may need to be flexible here there might need to be some give and take on both sides.  If re-employment can be offered it will be after a break of at least a full calendar month,  i.e. the whole of January (part-months don't count), and will only be in a part-time role with a maximum of 50% of full time hours.  You will be issued with a new contract of employment which will normally last for a maximum of three years but could be for less.

Upon commencing your new contract, you will automatically be entered into the pension scheme as the College has a duty to auto enrol all staff.  You may opt-out of the scheme if you wish.

If you wish to request partial retirement you need to complete a Partial Retirement Form and email it to your Line Manager, Head of Department and Departmental Operating Manager for their consideration.  If your request is successful, your line manager will pass the form to Human Resources for processing along with a new contract request. Your retirement cannot take place until at least three months after your application has been approved and you must not return to employment until you have claimed your pension and it has been put into payment.

If your request is unsuccessful your line manager will let you know and will explain the reasons why and you may not make another request until one year has passed.

How can we support you? 

Retirement planning workshops

If you are considering taking your pension you should understand how much your retirement income will be and make sure you have what you need for the whole of your retirement.

To help you with this the College provides a Pre-Retirement Workshop to assist you with your plan.

Key areas that are covered include:
  • Your College pension
  • Flexible retirement options and part-time working
  • The State pension
  • How to save more for retirement
  • Investments
  • Taxation
  • Estate planning and inheritance
  • Long term care costs
  • Life after work

If you wish to book a place on the next workshop please email rsvp-pensions to register your interest.

Retirement on medical grounds

This guidance is for those who are in good health and wish to retire after age 55. If you are too ill to work you may be eligible to receive an ill-health retirement pension which can be paid immediately, regardless of age, and, depending on the nature of your illness, may be enhanced to include the period you would have worked to normal retirement age. If you’re seriously ill with a shortened life expectancy you may even be able to convert your future pension payments into an immediate cash lump sum.

If you believe this may apply to you, you should ask your Line Manager to refer you to Occupational Health, or if you prefer, you can self-refer yourself. An Occupational Health Advisor or Physician will be able to discuss with you whether you may qualify for retirement on medical grounds and will be able to advise you on the next steps to take. 

Support can also be provided by Confidential Care who offer a free counselling service.

Although we are unable to confirm whether you qualify for medical retirement, only the pension scheme Trustees can do this, you may wish to speak confidentially to a Pensions Specialist who will be able to discuss the options that may be available.  To do that please contact us by email.

Managers Guidance

Full Retirement

Most staff are able to retire after they reach age 55, although some SAUL staff retain a right to retire after age 50. Any staff that retire before age 66 (or 60 for some – and there may be a cost to the College, and therefore your department, if they do) will have their pension reduced accordingly.  Staff do not need your permission to retire, however, they are required to serve at least their contractual notice period.  Ideally all staff should give three months’ notice of their intention to retire.

Staff may also wish to attend a Pre-Retirement workshop offered by the College before they retire.  This usually lasts three hours.

Staff retiring fully will need to complete a leaver form and indicate the reason for leaving is ‘retirement’.  This automatically starts the process with the HR Staff Hub and the Payroll & Pensions Team who will let the relevant pension scheme know and liaise with your staff member and collect the required information.

Flexible Retirement

If your member of staff is in USS or the NHS pension scheme they have the option of requesting flexible retirement. SAUL does not currently offer a flexible retirement arrangement.

Flexible retirement allows a member of staff to begin receiving some of their pension already earned and at the same time to continue to work but in a reduced capacity, either fewer working hours or a reduction in salary; see table below: 

NHS USS

Salary must be reduced by a minimum of 10% at each flex. This can either be by reducing working hours (e.g. working 10% fewer hours a week) or by reducing your salary (e.g. by giving up an allowance you currently receive that is at least 10% of your overall salary)

Can draw between 20% and 100% of pension (from 1/10/2023) 

Salary and working hours must be reduced by between 20% and 80% at each flex

Can draw between 20% and 80% of pension

Flexible retirement requires departmental consent and any staff requesting will send you a Flexible retirement form which they will also send to the Head of Department and Departmental Operations Manager.

The request must set out the date they would like reduced working to start and the hours they wish to work after they have accessed some pension.

You will need to review the proposal and decide whether the requested work pattern will meet the operational needs of your department.  You are able to refuse a request or suggest an alternative work pattern that does work.

If a flexible retirement request is approved, the requirement will be that it will only be agreed as part of a package that will include a final retirement normally within three years, but exceptionally up to five years. This is in consideration of the need for succession planning, resource planning and ensuring that the needs of key stakeholders and operational requirements are met. Any agreement to retirements beyond three years must have the approval of the Faculty Dean or Director of Support Services along with the Director of Human Resources.

You will need to complete a Contractual change form placing the individual on a three year fixed-term contract, after which full retirement will be taken. This is in consideration of the need for succession planning, resource planning and ensuring that the needs of key stakeholders and operational requirements are met. All forms need to be sent to the HR Staff Hub for processing.

Once approved, the arrangement will constitute a formal agreement between the member of staff and the College to vary their contract terms and conditions and for their final retirement to take place on, or before the specified date.  If they decide to leave before the specified date, their normal contractual notice will continue to apply.  Full retirement will therefore commence within three years of the start of their flexible retirement period. This excludes any further flexes they may do and the final retirement date stays the same.

If you agree to the request, the Partial/Flexible Retirement Application Form must be submitted to the HR Staff Hub as soon as possible.  Flexible retirement may take place three months after the application has been approved and will not be able to be processed if the flexible retirement date is less than two months away.

Partial Retirement

In some cases, it may be appropriate to agree to Partial Retirement.  This allows a member of staff to draw all their accrued pension and return to work at the College after a break in service on a new contract of employment. There are restrictions on duration and working hours which are set out below:

  • Minimum break in service is one full calendar month, i.e. the whole of January (part-months don't count)
  • Maximum hours allowed on return to work 50% Full Time Equivalent
  • Maximum contract length of three years
  • New contract of employment is pensionable

A Partial Retirement request requires your consent.  The request will be emailed to you along with the Head of Department and the Departmental Operations Manager for your consideration.

You will need to review the proposal and decide whether the request will meet the operational needs of your department.  You are able to refuse a request or suggest an alternative that does work.

If you agree to the request, you will need to send the Partial Retirement Form to the HR Staff Hub along with a completed online leavers form (via the HR Portal) for the member of staff. Human Resources will write to the member of staff and confirm the process.  Retirement cannot take place until three months after the request has been approved. Importantly, the individual may not return to work until their pension has been processed and put into payment.

Things to consider

To ensure consistent application of the retirement framework there will not be local departmental discretion to extend employment beyond the parameters outlined above.  The Faculty Deans and Directors of Support Services in conjunction with their Strategic HR Partner will review any requests for application of discretion to the policy using the following criteria:

  • Commitment to teaching a particular programme
  • Work on a specific project/research grant that requires a longer period than five years
  • Strategic role that requires specialist recruitment
  • Supporting role during departmental transformation or restructure
  • Business continuity

Things to consider when you receive a Flexible or Partial Retirement request:

When considering whether you are able to accommodate the request it’s a good idea to think about the following:

  • Economic factors
  • Business needs
  • Capacity to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • Impact on quality
  • Impact on performance
  • Ability to recruit additional staff
  • Planned structural changes
  • Succession planning
  • Allocation of space

A guidance document has been formulated to help you consider applications for flexible and/or partial retirement requests: Flexible and Partial Retirement Guidance for Managers.

If you have considered a request but are unable to accommodate it, you must let the member of staff know as soon as possible and give the reason for the refusal.  Staff are not able to appeal the decision and may not apply for partial or flexible retirement again until one year has passed. 

Retirement planning workshops

The College regularly run Pre-Retirement workshops to help staff manage the transition from work into retirement. Staff are actively encouraged to attend and some of your staff may have received an invitation to attend.