Change in Queen Mary’s Retirement Policy
The College has decided that it will, in future, operate without a set retirement age for any of its staff. It follows that each member of staff has, with immediate effect, the right to determine the date on which they will retire. In order to do so, the employee will need to give the period of notice required of them in their contract of employment.
Extended Working Lives
In some departments, extensive planning is required if an employee is to have a meaningful programme of work to do. For example, an academic member of staff may need to plan and make proposals for research, apply and get funding, take on graduate students and/or offer employment to research assistants. With retirement in mind, some employees may agree with their managers a work plan in which their work “runs down” as their retirement age approaches. However, unless the employee opts to give notice of retirement in writing, they retain the right to change their minds. If they do so, it may be necessary to review the employee's research, teaching or work programme - and this should be done as early as possible.
If you are responsible for appointing and managing staff in Queen Mary, and you have concerns over managing without a default retirement age, the HR Department would be pleased to hear from you and to offer assistance. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discussing Retirement Plans
It is good practice to discuss the plans of staff irrespective of whether they are approaching retirement age. Such a discussion of future aims and aspirations can help managers to identify training or development needs, to think about future work requirements and how these might impact on the employee. An employee may volunteer their retirement plans, in which case the matter can be discussed. However, managers should take care to avoid giving the impression that the person’s retirement is being pursued or demanded, or that an older employee is being singled out because of their age.
Some staff may wish to extend their working life but may want more flexibility in the hours they work or to change the work they do. The College has a flexible working policy that it applies to staff of all ages. Its aim is to offer practical and flexible ways of working which will meet the needs of the College, its students, customers and staff. Managers should consider favourably any request for flexible working and may refuse an application only for a reason (or reasons) specified in the policy.
The policy provides a formal process but where the parties are minded to agree a request for a change in contract, the matter can normally be dealt with more informally.
Members of USS (and some members of the NHS pension scheme) have access to a “flexible retirement” option in which staff can reduce the hours they work (by any amount between 20% and 80%) and start taking a commensurate proportion of their pension. In such cases, the pension scheme requires that any reduction in hours must have prior approval from the Head of School/Institute/Department. The College will make its decision about whether to approve a reduction in hours on the same basis that is applied to flexible working requests from staff of any age. USS has produced a factsheet which describes how flexible retirement works.
Staff on fixed-term contracts
Some staff approaching (or over) the age of 65 are employed on fixed-term contracts. As such contracts end, the College will review the contract in the normal way as described in the Code of Practice on Reviewing Fixed-term Contracts. The College will not take the age of the post-holder into account when making the decision about whether to renew the contract. Staff over the age of 65 may qualify, in the same way as staff of any age for a redundancy payment if their contract ends.