Exit and retirement FAQs
At what age can I retire?
Under the rules of all three College Pension schemes (Saul, USS and the NHS scheme) normal "retirement age" [the age at which you can begin taking your pension if you stop working] is age 65. However, you may be able to retire without any reduction to your pension benefits once you have reached the age of 60. If you want to retire before your sixtieth birthday, there is some scope for this but the pension payable is likely to be reduced. The College's pension funds all have different rules and are run independently of Queen Mary. The provisions are complex so please contact a Pensions Officer to get information based on your personal circumstances.
What do I do if I want to retire?
We ask that you inform the Pensions Officer of your intention to retire at least three months before the date of retirement. Your contractual notice period may be less than this, but informing the pensions section in good time will enable them to contact your pension scheme and make the arrangements for your pension to begin.
If I discuss retirement with an older worker can I leave myself open to a claim of age discrimination?
Not if properly handled. It is reasonable for managers to want to know about an employee’s future aims and aspirations. The important thing is not to single out older workers. If you are going to ask older workers about their plans it is good practice to also ask other, younger workers, about their plans as well, perhaps as part of an annual appraisal meeting.
What can I say to an older employee at a meeting to discuss their future plans?
It is best if you start any discussion in a general way. Perhaps asking the employee what their future plans are or how they see themselves developing in your organisation over the next year or so. Any direct questions such as “are you planning to retire in the near future” or “you seem to have been slowing down of late, have you thought about retirement” are best avoided. Once the person has indicated that they do wish to retire there is no problem in talking to them about the date for their retirement and any adjustments they may wish to make to their working arrangements or hours in the lead up to retirement.
Do I have to have a retirement discussion with my employees?
No, there is no requirement to talk to employees about their future plans but you may find it helpful to do so for your own organisational and succession planning purposes.
What can I do if an employee indicates that are going to retire on a certain date but then do not do so?
If an employee has given formal notice to leave, you are under no obligation to let them withdraw their notice. However if they tell you during a discussion that they are planning on retiring, they may change their minds before formal notice is given. Where an employee decides not to retire and no notice has been given, the first thing to do is to discuss with the employee their reason for not retiring. This can help to establish whether there is any issue that you, as a manager, might be able to help them with and thus allow them to retire on the due date or shortly thereafter. Ultimately however, if they decide that they do not wish to retire, for whatever reason, then you cannot compulsorily retire them. To do so would leave you open to a complaint of unfair dismissal
I have an employee who is not performing as well as I would wish, I was hoping to retire him when he reaches age 65 but now I cannot do this because Queen Mary retirement policy has changed. What can I do?
Take advice from your HR Consultant. A workplace discussion may help you better understand the employee’s intentions regarding their retirement. If they intend to retire then you might allow this to happen but remember an employee can change their mind. Where an employee is performing poorly, you have the option of tackling the problem under the Code of Practice on Managing Poor Performance.
What should I put in a reference?
The HR guidance on giving references sets out what to include. It is particularly useful if you have (or had) a "challenging" relationship with the member of staff who is seeking a reference.