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Flexible Retirement Process

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.

1Member reviews flexible retirement information

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

 

2Member has informal discussion about possibility of reduced working hours with line manager

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:

  • Reasons for request including the need to facilitate personal or family commitments
  • Options for different working hours/ patterns
  • Compatibility of proposed working pattern(s) with the department needs
  • Implications of reducing hours on individual work objectives, activities and any possible changes to contract e.g. for an academic member of staff, a reduction of hours removing teaching duties may require a transfer to a Research contract
  • Implications of reducing hours on other departmental staff or departmental objectives and suggestions for addressing these implications

Line managers should consider and be prepared to discuss:

  • The impact upon achieving individual, team or departmental objectives and meeting business needs of the department in the short, medium and long term. 
  • The benefits of the proposal which may include improved productivity, morale and commitment, retention of key staff and/or salary or other cost savings. Work should be as productive (or more so) following the implementation of any changes.
  • The feasibility and impact of the work on colleagues, the department, students, research sponsors, service users or any other relevant third party.
  • Impact on the workload or health, safety and security of the individual concerned or their colleagues: line managers must be aware of the hazards of working outside the 'normal' day and should consult their departmental safety policy in the first instance if they have any queries.
  • Any additional administration required to implement the proposed arrangement should be practicable and cost effective.
  • Effective management of the change; this may generate efficiency gains in terms of use of office space.
  • Ability to secure cover for the remaining hours and duties e.g. re-organise work amongst existing staff or recruit additional staff
  • Timing of change e.g. implications to teaching
  • Changes to staff contract e.g. for an academic member of staff, a reduction of hours removing teaching duties may require a transfer to a Research contract. Advice should be sought from HR Consultancy.
  • Equality considerations. The request to reduce working hours may be in relation to personal commitments such as caring for elderly relatives or a person with a disability and such requests should be considered favourably. Agreeing part-time working requests can open opportunities for succession planning, mentoring of younger staff and bringing new staff into the department.
  • Where the arrangement proposed cannot be accepted for operational reasons, possible alternatives should be considered and discussed with the individual before a final decision is reached. Advice should also be sought from HR Consultancy.

3Member requests USS Flexible Retirement Quotation from UCL Pension Services (Form A)

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.

4UCL Pension Services provides USS Flexible Retirement Quotation to member

UCL Pension Services will receive the quotation from USS and provide this to the member, normally within four weeks of the member’s request.

5Member submits formal request for reduction in working hours to line manager (Form B)

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.

6Line manager and Head of Department consider reduction in hours request

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.

7Line manager advises member of outcome of reduced hours request

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.

8UCL Pension Services provide flexible Retirement notification to USS

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.

 

 

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