The default retirement age was abolished in 2011, and some members of staff may therefore not have considered that they will need to make their own decision about when to retire. Given the importance of the retirement decision, departments should ensure staff have access to relevant information and encourage anyone considering retirement to consult before reaching their decision. Available support includes:
Pensions information: Staff considering retirement may wish to get an individual pension benefit estimate: the size of each person’s pension benefits depends on a number of specific factors and it is therefore important for individuals to get advice based on their own personal circumstances The Pensions Office are available to provide pensions estimates and other pension information, but they cannot give financial advice. For this, members of staff will have to consult an independent financial adviser.
Meetings with managers: Anyone considering retirement options is encouraged to discuss these with their administrator or manager. Such discussions should give the employee important information about how the department sees work evolving over the coming years, how the employee might be affected by any changes, and how the department might respond to a request for flexible retirement or for a change in role.
Discussion of retirement: Managers should not shy away from initiating a discussion about an older employee’s future plans. Care needs to be taken, however, to avoid direct questions that give the impression of suggesting that the employee should be thinking of retiring. There are no problems with discussing retirement if the subject is first raised by the employee. Best practice is to start discussion by asking general questions about how the employee sees their future plans and development and to ensure that such discussions form part of a wider pattern of meetings with other staff, such as occur within a PDR process.
Performance: Care must be taken to avoid making any assumptions about capability or performance changing with age. High performing older employees should have the same access to any career opportunities and merit pay schemes as others. Equally unsatisfactory performance must be addressed as and when it arises. Best practice is to review performance regularly, but again such reviews cannot be targeted only at older employees. They need to be part of a general review process for all staff.
In the absence of a retirement age, the grounds for dismissal are: conduct, capability, redundancy or for some other substantial reason.
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