This page provides information on the range of flexible working options included in the NHS Pension Scheme; within the 1995 and the 2008 section. Background information on flexible retirement and a good example of a policy developed in this area are also provided.
Flexible retirement is defined as 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 deliver one or more of the following benefits:
- retention of experienced staff with valuable skills
- greater choice for employees
- the creation of a wider pool of expertise for recruitment (by including those aged over 55)
- a strategic and effective response to demographic change
- equality of opportunity and fairness for all employees.
Flexible working options and the NHS Pension Scheme
As a result of the NHS Pensions Choice exercise, all employers in the NHS will need to review and update the relevant HR policies in partnership with their trade unions to ensure that retirement policies and flexible working arrangements take account of both the 1995 and the 2008 sections. This will help NHS organisations to retain skills and support employee aspirations to work more flexibly in the run up retirement.
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.
A short guide to flexible retirement, which shows how these flexible working options interact with the two sections of the NHS Pension Scheme, is available.
In addition, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust has developed a managing retirement policy, which is a good example of a policy developed in this area. Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust has also reviewed its retirement policy for staff and managers to reflect the NHS Employers guide to flexible retirement. A retirement policy has also been developed by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. This outlines how the trust has used the flexibilities available to offer staff maximum opportunity to remain at work until they are 70, whilst enabling the organisation to retain a skilled and experienced workforce.
Examples of good practice relating to flexible retirement and the NHS Pension Scheme are available from our flexible retirement case studies page.