Retirement process

Both staff and managers, including Heads of Department and Faculty Board Chairs, have roles to play in the retirement process. This section highlights their key responsibilities.

Further information, including process maps, are available at the links on the right hand side of this page.

Steps for staff

i. Letter

As they approach retirement, staff should receive a letter from their Head of Department or equivalent. For staff at grades 1-7, this letter might be received as early as your 55th birthday. For staff in grades 8 and above, it should be received 2.5 years in advance of the retirement date, normally soon after the 65th birthday. The purpose of the letter is to remind you of your retirement options, to update you on sources of information and support currently available, and to encourage you to consult with your line manager or, for academic staff, your Head of Department or equivalent about your plans. 

ii. Discussion with manager

Anyone considering their retirement options is encouraged to discuss them with their administrator or manager. For academic staff, this will be your Head of Department or Faculty Board Chair in the first instance. Such discussions should give the member of staff important information about how the department might respond to a request for flexible retirement or for a change in role. Where appropriate, consideration should also be given to handing over longer-term projects

You should not delay considering your options and, where appropriate, seeking more information. You will need to give the requisite notice to your department if you wish to retire – your notice period will be specified in your contract of employment and is often three months and, for academic staff, will include one full University term. Should you wish to apply for flexible retirement, you will need to allow sufficient time as this can take some time to organise. For staff at grade 8 or above, please also be aware that the deadline for EJRA applications is two years before the EJRA date.

iii. Pension consultation

Anyone considering retirement should contact the Pensions Office to request an individual pension estimate; depending on the scheme, the size of each person’s pension benefits depends on factors including age 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. For contact details for the Pensions Office, please see here.

iv. Notice

Once you have reached a decision about your retirement plans, you should give notice to your manager as soon as possible, and at least within the notice period set down in your contract. Please bear in mind that the Pensions Office requires at least three months’ notice of an individual’s retirement date to process pension benefits for some pension schemes. Please contact the Pensions Office for further details. 

Steps for managers (including Heads of Department and Faculty Board Chairs)

Departments and divisions should ensure staff have access to relevant information, and encourage anyone considering retirement to consult with them in good time.

i. Letter for staff

Departments (or, for academic staff, Divisions) should write to members of staff well in advance of their retirement date.[1] This is to remind staff of their options, update them on sources of information and support available and encourage them to consult with their department, the Pensions Office and other parties as necessary. Model letters can be downloaded at on the Templates and Forms page here. There is further guidance about the process for identifying staff approaching retirement age - please see here.  

For staff at grades 1-7: Departments should write to members of staff at around their 55th birthday and then every five years thereafter.

For staff at grade 8 or above: Departments (or, for academic staff, Divisions) should write to employees at least 2.5 years in advance of their retirement date.

ii. Discussion with staff

Managers, including Heads of Department and Faculty Board Chairs in the case of academic staff, should meet with staff members who are nearing retirement age to discuss their retirement plans. These discussions should take place soon after the staff member has received the retirement letter (see above). Managers are encouraged to:

  • set aside an appropriate amount of time for a discussion;
  • conduct discussions in a confidential space;
  • familiarise themselves in advance with the options available to particular staff members;
  • begin by thanking the staff member for their service;
  • explain that the purpose of the meeting is to help the staff member understand their options, and where appropriate, set out the specific options;
  • ensure that they avoid giving the impression of encouraging staff members to make any particular decision;
  • where appropriate, discuss handover arrangements for longer-term projects;
  • if there is the potential for an EJRA application, allow sufficient time to explore the timetable for applications and initiate discussions about the alternatives to employment; and
  • ensure that those who wish to maintain some sort of contact with the University after the retirement age are aware of the breadth of options available to them (see Section 7 and Section 8).

For discussions with staff at grades 1 – 7, please note that the University may not request that staff at these grades 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. Please note that all normal employment processes, including redundancy, capability, etc., apply to all employees regardless of age.

Managers should not shy away from initiating discussion about a member of staff’s plans. Care must be taken not to give the impression of suggesting that the employee should retire, but managers may discuss 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.

Care must be taken to avoid making assumptions about capability or performance changing with age. Older employees should have the same access to career opportunities and merit pay schemes as others. Equally, unsatisfactory performance must be addressed whenever it arises. Best practice is to review performance regularly for all staff; reviews cannot be targeted at older staff. 

iii. Pension consultation

If staff have questions about their pensions, managers should encourage them to consult the Pensions Office. Please see here for Pensions Office contact details.

iv. Notice

Please bear in mind that the Pensions Office requires at least three months’ notice of an individual’s retirement date in order to process pension benefits for some pension schemes. The necessary form used to inform Pensions is available on the Pensions website here. Staff should be encouraged to inform their department of their retirement plans as soon as possible, and to give at least the notice period laid down in their contract.

v. Retirement gifts 

 The University has a policy on retirement gifts, available here