Flexible retirement, approved by the employer, provides qualifying members of the USS pension scheme the opportunity to receive part of their pension benefits from age 55 onwards subject to a reduction of at least 20% in their working hours. This provides flexibility regarding the age at which a member of staff begins phased retirement in the lead up to full retirement. Access to pension benefits from age 55 is contingent upon a reduction in working hours agreed by the Head of Department.
Members should follow these steps when considering an application for flexible retirement.
Members wishing to explore the possibility of flexible retirement should review:
(i) The Work Life Balance Policy which details the eligibility, application and approval process for reduced part-time working;
(ii) the USS flexible retirement factsheet which contains information and eligibility on USS Flexible Retirement;
(iii) the USS final section benefit modeller which can be used to obtain a flexible retirement estimate.
Members are also advised to attend a retirement and financial planning workshop organised by UCL Pension Services
Members should engage in early discussions with their line manager about the possibility of reducing their working hours. The line manager should consider whether the request would meet the business needs of the department. Members and line managers should be aware of the formal criteria for considering such requests in the Work Life Balance Policy. For convenience the criteria is summarised below with some additional practical guidance. The Human Resources Consultancy team can provide advice and assistance to managers where necessary, particularly in providing advice on practice adopted elsewhere in UCL.
Members should consider and be prepared to discuss:
Line managers should consider and be prepared to discuss:
Following informal discussions, the member will need to make a decision about whether to formally pursue the flexible retirement request.
The member may complete Form A - Application for a USS flexible retirement quotation, and send this to UCL Pension Services to obtain a full quotation from USS. This form should be endorsed by the line manager to confirm that discussions around reduced working hours have taken place. Where the member does not require a quotation from USS to make a decision about flexible retirement, they should proceed to step 5 below and submit Form B.
UCL Pension Services will receive the quotation from USS and provide this to the member, normally within four weeks of the member’s request.
The member should complete Form B – Application for Part-time Working and Flexible Retirement and submit this to their line manager. The request should detail any considerations made under step 2 of this process i.e. how their request will continue to meet the needs of the department.
The line manager will in liaison with the Head of Department, consider whether the request (Form B) meets the business needs of the department with reference to step 2 of this process and the criteria in the Work Life Balance Policy.
The line manager and Head of Department will complete the approval section of Form B and confirm the outcome of the request with the member. A line manager may not approve a request for reduced working hours if this does not meet the business needs of the department. The grounds for rejecting an application will be in accordance with the criteria in the Work Life Balance Policy. The policy has an appeal procedure which can be followed where requests are not approved.
Where a request is approved, a copy of Form B will be sent to the Departmental Administrator to process the agreed reduction to working hours, salary and any other change to contract. A copy will also be sent to UCL Pension Services so they can begin the implementation of the member’s flexible retirement.
Once Pension Services have received Form B they will contact the member to complete notification of member’s flexible retirement to USS. The notification to USS must be no later than 2 months before change of hours and flexible retirement date.