Retirement Policy

Introduction

The University aims to help managers and employees in understanding the options which are available to them in relation to retirement. Pension regulations are complex and while the University is legally prohibited from giving direct advice on financial matters, including pensions benefits; we are encouraged to provide advice and interpretation. The policy framework that is set out here is designed to help and inform employees to make personal retirement arrangements that take account of their individual circumstances and wishes, as well as the needs of the University.

The corporate objectives of the University, its employment policies and commitment to equality of opportunity for all staff underpin this policy. The University is seeking to take full advantage of the flexibilities offered by the occupational pension schemes that are available to support effective succession planning. We believe that this serves to maximise the contribution made to the University by employees throughout their career and provides opportunities for personal development and progression, as well as making posts available that will attract high quality staff to the University.

The University is strongly committed to fostering a flexible working environment and to ensuring that no member of staff experiences less favourable treatment because of a reason which is not job related and cannot be justified.

Pension scheme provision

Employees of the University will be eligible for membership of either the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) or Universities’ Superannuation Scheme (USS). In some circumstances these schemes offer slightly different options and benefits to members. The University offers all employees the same retirement opportunities as far as possible within the regulations laid down in these schemes. The employee’s contract of employment will confirm the pension scheme for which they are eligible.

Each of these schemes sets out qualifying periods of membership that must be completed before pension benefits become payable. All of the retirement options within this policy are subject to completion of the relevant qualifying period.

Each of the three schemes is administered by organisations external to the University. However, the University’s Human Resources Directorate provides a pension advice service, which includes providing information about the pension schemes and responding to employees’ individual enquiries. However in some cases, employees will need to contact the scheme administrators directly and Human Resources will provide the relevant contact details to enable this.

Planned retirement age

From 6th April 2011, the University will no longer issue notifications of retirement and employees who have not been issued a retirement notification by that date will no longer have a planned retirement date. Therefore employees who wish to retire should notify the University of this in writing, confirming whether they wish their occupational pension scheme benefits to be paid.

Retirement options

Age 60 or over

Employees who are aged 60 or over can voluntarily retire at any time by giving the appropriate notice period for their post. Pension benefits will be actuarially reduced if they are paid before the pension scheme’s normal retirement age. Normal retirement age for members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme is from age 60 onwards; for members of the Local Government Pension Scheme and the Universities Superannuation Scheme it is age 65.

Before 60

Members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme who are 55 or over have the right to retire by giving the appropriate notice period for their post. Pension benefits will be actuarially reduced because they are paid before the pension scheme’s normal retirement age.

Members of the Local Government Pension Scheme who are 55 or over require the permission of their employer to retire before age 60. In some cases granting retirement before 60, even if the benefits will be actuarially reduced, will result in a cost to the University. This will usually be very high and such applications are therefore not normally approved, but if there are exceptional circumstances, they may be agreed.

Members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme who are 55 or over are able to retire by giving the appropriate notice period for their post. Pension benefits will be actuarially reduced if they are paid before the pension scheme's normal retirement age.
The University will not usually agree to pay the costs that would be incurred by allowing unreduced early retirement benefits to be paid. However, the payment of unreduced benefits may be agreed in exceptional circumstances. On request, Human Resources will provide guidance about pension scheme retirement dates, the impact of early retirement on pension benefits and how to obtain an estimate of retirement benefits.

The occupational pension schemes available in the University recommend that employees give them at least four months’ notice of retirement. Therefore employees who plan to retire should consider giving more notice than is required by their contract of employment to ensure that there is no delay in the payment of their pension benefits.

Flexible and phased retirement

Members of the Local Government Pension Scheme who are aged 55 or over can apply for early payment of their accrued pension benefits in conjunction with either a reduction in hours or a reduction in grade. The benefits will usually be reduced if they are being paid before the scheme’s normal retirement age. If applying for a reduction in hours, the reduction must be for at least 20% of the working hours. Flexible retirement will not be granted until the University has confirmed whether the arrangement will result in an employer cost. If there is a cost this will usually make it unlikely that the University could agree to the proposal. However, flexible retirement may still be granted in exceptional circumstances. If there is no cost, applications will be considered on the basis of the operational needs of the University.

Members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme who are aged 55 or over can apply for early payment of part of their accrued pension benefits in conjunction with either a reduction in hours or a reduction in grade. The benefits will be reduced if they are being paid before the scheme’s normal retirement age. Applications will be considered based on the operational needs of the University.

Members of the Universities’ Superannuation Scheme who are aged 55 or over can apply for early payment of part of their accrued pension benefits in conjunction with a reduction in hours and salary. The benefits will be reduced if they are being paid before the scheme's normal retirement age. Applications will be considered based on the operational needs of the University.

Voluntary severance and retirement

Employees who take voluntary severance at or after age 60 will be entitled to immediate payment of their pension benefits. However, these may be reduced in accordance with pension scheme rules.

Employees who take voluntary severance at or after age 55 may request early payment of their pension scheme benefits. If the scheme rules allow early payment and there is no cost to the University this will usually be granted. The benefits will be reduced because they are being paid early.

Employees who wish to benefit from a retirement arrangement that would result in a cost to the University e.g. retirement before the scheme retirement age with unreduced benefits or early retirement with reduced benefits that results in an employer cost, can request this as part of a voluntary severance agreement. The cost of the arrangement would be offset against the VS lump sum, resulting in a reduced lump sum payment. If the cost of the arrangement would be more than the total VS lump sum, the requested retirement arrangement would not normally be permitted.

Further information will be found in the documentation that is issued with each voluntary severance scheme that is established by the University for a particular group of staff.

Redundancy

The rules of the Local Government Pension Scheme and the Universities Superannuation Scheme provide for scheme members who are made compulsorily redundant at or after age 55 to be entitled to immediate payment of unreduced pension benefits. In other cases, the University will not usually pay for scheme members who are made redundant to receive unreduced pension benefits. From 1st October 2014, USS members will not be entitled to immediate payment of unreduced benefits upon redundancy.

The rules of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme do not entitle scheme members who are made redundant to immediate payment of their unreduced pension benefits. The University will not usually pay for scheme members who are made redundant to receive unreduced pension benefits.

Retirement on the grounds of ill health

Full details of the University’s policy on long-term absence due to ill-health can be

found within Managing absence from work due to ill-health.

In cases where an employee’s long-term ability to work is likely to be significantly affected by ill-health, the employee may become eligible for ill-health retirement under the terms of the pension scheme of which they are a member. The ill-health provisions and the procedures for ill-health retirement differ slightly between pension schemes. Human Resources will provide detailed information (and assistance in making an application if appropriate) on request.

Re-employment after retirement

Employees who retire can seek re-employment via the University’s normal recruitment procedures. In some cases re-employment will affect payment of pension benefits and can lead to abatement of pension. Advice on this matter can be offered by Human Resources and the scheme administrators.

Financial advice

On request, Human Resources will provide employees with standard information on the occupational pension scheme of which they are a member to help them plan their retirement. Additionally they will endeavour to help employees in obtaining answers to more complex queries from the relevant scheme administrator. However, the University is unable to offer financial advice to employees. Therefore all employees are advised to consider obtaining independent financial advice when planning their retirement.

Other pension arrangements

When planning for retirement, employees should take into consideration any state pension entitlements or alternative pension benefits that they have. The University cannot provide information about these arrangements. However, employees who are experiencing problems finding contact details in relation to other pension benefits can contact Human Resources for guidance.

Disputes

Employees who are unhappy with a decision in respect of their retirement arrangements or pension benefits are advised to contact Human Resources in the first instance to determine whether an informal resolution can be achieved.

Employees who wish to formally dispute a decision made in respect of their pension benefits should do so in accordance with the internal dispute resolution procedure of the relevant scheme. Disputes in respect of other aspects of the retirement policy should be pursued via the Grievance procedure.

Further information

Please see the Transition into Retirement support pages (available from Mid November 2017) enabling colleagues to make informed decisions about retirement.

 

Updated Jan 12 (JSC 111202/04)