Support staff retirement

There is no fixed age at which support staff must retire. Support staff may choose to retire at the minimum pension age stipulated in the rules of their pension scheme, or anytime afterwards. The University may not request support staff to take retirement at a particular age, nor suggest that they consider doing so.  



  • Staff at grade 7 and below who are thinking of applying for re-grading or promotion into a post at grade 8 or above need to give careful consideration to the effect this might have on their eligibility for retirement and pension. 

  • Employees who were assimilated to academic-related grades (in the National Framework exercise) while retaining elements of support staff contractual terms (so-called ‘hybrid’ contracts), have contracts that entitle them to be treated, for retirement purposes, as support staff.  If in doubt, advice should be sought from your HR Business Partner.  


Guidance on retirement

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Letter to employee: Departments (and divisions where appropriate) should write to employees at or around their 55th birthday in order to remind staff of their retirement options, to update them on sources of information and support available, and to encourage them to consult with teams like Pensions if necessary. It is recommended that another retirement letter is sent to the employee every 5 years thereafter to remind them of the above. There is a model letter that departments can use.  

Retirement report: Departments can use the Retirement Report in Discoverer (PERDEP07) to determine who should receive a letter.  

Employee’s responsibility: To retire, a member of staff must write to their department, providing the appropriate period of notice (as specified in their contract) of their intention to retire. 

Notifying the Pensions Office: Departments should notice the Pensions Office as soon as possible once an employee has advised them of their intended retirement. Please use the Advance notification of employee retiring form. The Pensions Office require three months' notice in advance to ensure benefits are paid in a timely fashion.  

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Support staff belong to a number of pension schemes and specific advice needs to be taken on how each scheme’s rules apply (contact the Pensions Office). But, to illustrate, the current possibilities under OSPS, the principal pension scheme for support staff, are: 

Normal retirement: All eligible OSPS members are entitled to take their pension benefits and retire from the University from their scheme retirement date.  But if they do not wish to do so, they can continue to work beyond that date and take their benefits from OSPS later.  

Early retirement: Members of staff may apply to retire before their scheme retirement date. This is commonly known as ‘early retirement’. Early retirement usually entails receiving smaller pension benefits. 

Flexible retirement: The University offers support staff a flexible retirement option. This is where a member of staff continues to work, but takes a reduction in salary, for example by working reduced hours, in exchange for payment of a portion of their pension benefits. This mix of work and drawing pension benefits can offer an attractive way of tapering towards eventual full retirement. See flexible retirement for further information.

Ill-health retirement: If a member of staff's health deteriorates so that they are permanently unable to do their job, and they are a member of a relevant pension scheme, they may apply for an ill-health early retirement.  If they are eligible, and this is agreed, their pension benefits may be paid early.  Ill-health early retirement benefits may include a lump sum payment and, for eligible scheme members, a pension. Contact the Pensions team to find out what ill-health early retirement benefits are available under the various sections of OSPS. For advice on managing ill-health, departments should contact their HR Business Partner. 

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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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PeopleXD guidance

For guidance on managing the PeopleXD systems changes please visit: