Retirement for staff in grades 6 and 7

Since 1 October 2017[1], there has been no normal or fixed age at which academic-related staff at grades 6 and 7 have to retire. The University may not request staff at grades 6 and 7 to take retirement at a particular age nor suggest that they consider doing so. It is for individual members of staff to decide when they wish to retire.

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.

Staff at grades 6 and 7 may elect to retire at, or at any time after, the minimum pension age stipulated in the Rules of the pension scheme to which they belong.

Staff at grades 6 and 7 who are thinking of applying for re-grading or promotion into a post at grade 8 or above should give careful consideration to the effect this might have on their eligibility for retirement and pension.

[1] Please note that until 30 September 2017, the University’s EJRA applied to all staff at grades 6 and 7. Staff at grades 6 and 7 who reached the age of 67 on or before 30 September 2017 should have retired by that date unless they had an approved extension to work beyond their original retirement date. For further information please contact your HR Business Partner.

Retirement options

University staff at grades 6 and 7 belong to a number of pension schemes and specific advice needs to be taken on how each scheme’s rules apply in any individual situation (contact the Pensions Office). The current possibilities under USS, the principal pension scheme for academic-related staff, are:  

  • Normal retirement

65 is currently the ‘normal pension age’ for USS. From the normal pension age, all eligible USS members are entitled, if they choose, to take their pension benefits and retire from the University. But, if you do not wish to do so, you can continue to work beyond your normal pension age and take your pension later. Please be aware that the normal pension age will rise in the future, broadly in line with increases to the State Pension age. 

Please note that USS consider members who were aged 55 or over on 1 October 2011 to have a normal pension age of 60 (see early retirement).

  • Early retirement 

Members of staff may apply to retire before the normal pension age. This is commonly known as ‘early retirement’. The 55th birthday is generally the earliest age at which a member of USS may apply to take their pension and retire. Early retirement usually entails receiving a reduced pension – the benefits are actuarially reduced by an amount that depends on how long before normal pension age the pension is taken. However, a current USS member who was aged 55 or over on 1 October 2011 and who retires at or after the age of 60 will receive an unreduced pension.

  • Flexible retirement 

USS offers a flexible retirement option to members aged 55 or over. 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. This mix of work and pension can offer an attractive way of tapering towards full retirement. Information is available on the University’s flexible retirement policy.  

  • Ill health retirement

Please contact your HR Business Partner for guidance.

Retirement information

Given the importance of the retirement decision, departments and divisions should ensure staff have access to relevant information and encourage anyone considering retirement to consult the relevant parties before reaching a decision. Available support includes:

  •  Letter

Departments and, where appropriate, divisions should write to individual employees at a time when they might be starting to consider their retirement options, ie at around their 55th birthday, and then every five years thereafter. The purpose of the letter is to remind staff of their options, to update them on sources of information and support available and to encourage them to consult with their department, the Pensions Office, and any other relevant parties. A pro-forma letter may be downloaded from Templates and forms.

  • Pensions information

Anyone considering retirement should request an individual pension estimate. The level of each person’s pension benefits depends on factors such as age, pensionable salary and pensionable service.  The Pensions Office can provide pensions estimates and other pension information, but they cannot give financial advice. For this members of staff should consult an independent financial adviser.

  • Meetings with managers

Anyone considering their retirement options is encouraged to discuss them with their administrator or manager. Such discussions should give the employee important information about how the department sees their area of 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.

  • Retirement Seminar: Stepping forward with confidence into retirement

The Oxford Learning Institute offers a full-day retirement planning seminar entitled ‘Stepping forward with confidence into retirement’, which explores personal, practical and financial implications of retirement. This can be booked via the Oxford Learning Institute website or by emailing

Discussion of retirement

Managers should not shy away from initiating a discussion about an employee’s future plans. Care must be taken to avoid giving the impression of suggesting that the employee should think of retiring. There are no problems with discussing retirement if the subject is first raised by the employee. Best practice is to start a 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.


Care must be taken to avoid making 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 for all staff; such reviews cannot be targeted only at older employees.