HR Policy
To Be Categorised
HR Directorate
HR Policy Group
Director of Workforce, Employee Director
07 December 2021
01 September 2022
01 September 2025


NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.

New policies will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.

Reviewed policies will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.

If a policy is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.


1. Retirement Factsheet

2. Process Flowchart

3. Retirement Planning document

4. Employee Checklist

5. Manager Checklist

6. Voluntary Retirement and Re-employment Application (extant)

7. Voluntary Retirement and Re-employment flowchart

8. Recognition of the Contribution Of Employees Who Retire From NHS Fife

9. Frequently Asked Questions

10. Scottish Public Pensions Circular


  1. Retirement

1.1 Introduction

NHS Fife recognises that the change from work to retirement is one of the most significant events encountered during a person’s life. This policy aims to provide the best support and practical information to enable employees to experience as smooth a transition from work to retirement as possible. This policy was developed to support NHS Fife’s skill mix plans, consider the needs of the ageing workforce and facilitate the transfer of specialist knowledge and skills, such that they are retained in the workforce.

There is now no compulsory retirement age. NHS Fife believes that employees shall, wherever possible, be permitted to continue working for as long as they wish to do so.

NHS Fife recognises the importance of a retirement policy that is clear, concise and free from all forms of discrimination for employees and the need to ensure that appropriate support is available to staff at the time of their retirement from work.

This policy has been developed in partnership with staff side organisations and is based on the ‘Supporting the Work-Life Balance’ PIN Policy and Practice document. The Policy also reflects relevant employment legislation including the Equality Act and the Employment Rights Act. This policy is seen as an important element of NHS Fife’s commitment to equal opportunities and the following procedures will ensure fairness and equity in relation to all staff groups. At the same time, NHS Fife wishes to ensure that when employees retire appropriate recognition is given to their contribution to the Board and to the NHS in general.

This policy and related procedures do not in any way affect the rights of individual employees who are members of the NHS Superannuation Scheme (Scotland) or NHS Pension Scheme (Scotland) 2015 (hereafter referred to as the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes) to the benefits and provisions of that Scheme. These schemes are administered by the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (hereafter referred to as the SPPA).

1.2 Objectives

(a) To ensure fairness and equity approaching retirement.

(b) To manage the retirement process in a way which allows the employee to retire with dignity and facilitates appropriate celebration of attaining retirement status.

(c) To ensure appropriate recognition of long service when employees retire.

1.3 Scope

This policy applies to all staff employed full time or part time on Agenda for Change, Medical and Dental or Executive/Senior Manager Terms and Conditions of Service. Bank workers should contact their manager in regard to processing applications for the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes.

1.4 Roles & Responsibilities


Managers will ensure the effective application of the retirement process, and specifically to:

  • Ensure they are fully aware of and comply with the provisions of this policy, identifying and dealing with issues which arise in a fair, consistent, confidential, timely and supportive manner;
  • Ensure that the employee is aware of their entitlement within this policy;
  • Acknowledge an employee’s intention to retire;
  • Ensure that the employee is supported through the retirement process and pension; documentation is completed within the relevant timescale;
  • Ensure that all employees for whom they are responsible are made aware of and have access to this policy;
  • If the employee applies for retirement and return to part time working ensure that they follow the process detailed in Section 5;
  • Ensure that the needs of the Service are met in agreeing an application for retirement and return to part time working;
  • Where the member of staff is retiring and returning to a fixed term post, ensure that the fixed term contract is reviewed in accordance with NHS Fife’s Use of Fixed Term Contract policy Further guidance on fixed term contracts including terminating contracts can be found in NHS Fife’s Policy on the Use of Fixed Term Contracts
  • Ensure that they complete any Workforce and Payroll Information systems to reflect changes which will affect pay;
  • Ensure that aspects of the policy in relation to recognition are applied;
  • Ensure that they seek Workforce Directorate advice if they are unsure how to apply this policy;
  • Work in partnership with Trade union / professional organisations in the application of this policy.


Employees approaching retirement will:

  • Give as much notice as possible of their intention to retire, to their manager, in writing to assist with forward planning. If the employee is a member of the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes they should give 4 - 6 months notice of retirement and complete their pension papers to ensure sufficient notice for pension documentation to be completed.
  • Determine if they wish to use the pre-retirement arrangements eg phased retirement, retire and return, pre-retirement course, prior to resigning their substantive post and if so make the necessary application.

If making an application for retirement and return to part time hours and they are a member of the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes, make an application for returning to work using the application form at Appendix 6; check all the implications to their pension with the SPPA prior to submission, including number of part time hours, and the necessary break between their termination date and recommencement date in line with the requirements specified by SPPA. (Medical and Dental staff: please refer to section 5 for details)

Staff Side Representatives:

Staff Side Representatives will:

  • Support their members in using this policy, ensuring that their members are aware of their rights and responsibilities under this and other relevant policies
  • Work in partnership with NHS Fife to develop joint training as part of the implementation of this policy and participate in such joint training;
  • Work in partnership with NHS Fife to raise awareness of the benefits of, and the approach to the implementation of this policy; and
  • Participate in partnership monitoring, evaluation and review of this policy.

Human Resources:

Human Resources will:

  • Ensure the policy is communicated through normal NHS Fife processes;
  • Ensure that the manager is supported and the employee is made aware of their rights, responsibilities and entitlements;
  • Ensure that the retirement policy and procedure is applied fairly and consistently;
  • Develop and deliver, in partnership, training on this policy for managers and trade union/professional organisation representatives. Advise managers on the correct application of this policy; and
  • Support employees by providing advice on this policy.


Payroll will:

  • Administer appropriate pension documentation, where applicable

SECTION 2: Preparation for Retirement

2.1 Pension Information

Employees should consider their pension provision and take independent financial advice before making any decision in relation to retirement. Employees who are in the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes can access information on the scheme from the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) at . Employees who are in a personal/private pension scheme should contact their scheme provider direct. Employees approaching state pension age can access information on

2.2 Pre-Retirement Course

Employees will be given the opportunity to attend a pre-retirement course arranged by NHS Fife where they will have access to a wide range of information. Pre-retirement courses are available for all employees considering retirement within the next 12 months, taking early or flexible retirement or retiring due to ill health. Further details are available from the Workforce Development Department at

SECTION 3: Retirement Process

3.1 Retirement Process Information

A retirement factsheet is available on StaffLink. (Appendix 1) If HR advice and support is required on the process, application of policy or completion of forms then this should be initially directed to the local HR Assistant. A retirement process flowchart is available at Appendix 2.

3.2 From 12 months before Retirement

Pre-retirement courses are available for all employees considering retirement within the next 12 months, taking early or flexible retirement or retiring due to ill health. Ideally, employees should speak with their manager 12 months before they wish to retire to discuss their intentions with regards to retirement. The line manager will then arrange an individual meeting with the member of staff, as required, up to 9 months before the proposed date of retirement in order that a plan for retirement may be drawn up. A retirement planning document and checklists for employees and managers are also available for use in Appendices 3, 4 and 5. This form can be used, regardless of whether the employee is a member of the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes, for employees to set out their plan without committing themselves to a particular course of action. The discussion should include the options about retiring and undertaking further work within the NHS. See Section 5 for further information on options including retire and return to existing post, return to a different role or grade or return to a bank contract. It may be after discussion that the member of staff would prefer to consider flexible working in accordance with NHS Fife’s Flexible Working policy instead of retiring.

3.3 At least six months before Retirement

To benefit from the Phased Retirement arrangements in Section 4 of this Policy, an employee needs to provide at least 6 months notice of their intention to retire.

3.4 Four to six months before Retirement

Employees who are in the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes need to complete the Application Form between 4 to 6 months prior to their retirement date for their payments to be processed in time for the date of retirement. The most up to date application form can be obtained from the SPPA website at the following link:- SPPA NHS Forms

It should be noted that the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes Application Form cannot be processed until formal notice to retire has been received in writing and therefore, to ensure no delays in payment, employees may wish to provide more than their contractual notice. To claim the NHS pension the employee is normally required to retire from all NHS jobs from which pension contributions are paid; however there are there are a small number of exceptions. Employees should seek further information from the SPPA. A completed application form is required for each post from which the employee is retiring. All completed application forms should be submitted electronically through the line manager or administration staff for support to do this on behalf of the staff member, or direct to Payroll and HR. Please see the Retirement Factsheet for email addresses Appendix 1.

The Manager will need to process a termination of employment through the electronic employee system (eEES) at the same time as processing the application forms.

An application for retire and return should also be submitted by the member of staff at the same time as they apply for their pension. Please see Section 5.

The Manager will ascertain from the member of staff whether they wish to have a retirement presentation and the Manager will make arrangements in line with NHS Fife’s Hospitality Policy.

3.5 Three months or less before Retirement

When an employee is definite that they are going to retire from work, regardless of whether they are a member of the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes, they must inform their line manager in writing. Notification must be in accordance with the appropriate notice period as set out in the contract of employment.

At least one month prior to retirement, the Manager will make arrangements for a letter of recognition and thanks to be issued by the Chief Executive, on behalf of NHS Fife, at the point of retirement. (See 3.7 below and Appendix 8 for further information)

3.6 Before Retirement

Every employee must ensure that their full leave entitlement is taken prior to their retirement date. The Manager will arrange for the employee to complete an exit interview form,

3.7 At the point of retirement

If wished, a retirement presentation will be held. (See 3.4 above) A letter of recognition and thanks will be issued from the Chief Executive (see 3.5 above and Appendix 8) The Manager to arrange for return of all IT equipment, lease car, ID badge, mobile, uniform, keys etc if the employee is not returning.

3.8 Retirement for reasons other than age

If a member of staff is considering retiring for reasons other than age, e.g. ill health, then information will be provided on the application process from the local HR Officer/Advisor.

SECTION 4: Phased Retirement

4.1 Eligibility

4.1.1This section of the policy applies to all employees with 10 years NHS service, who retire from the employment of NHS Fife, linked to age retirement for members of the NHS Scotland superannuation schemes. For the purposes of this policy, the definition of retirement must be linked to the commencement date of payment of a pension – either a statutory state pension and / or an NHS Occupational / private or personal pension.

4.1.2 In the case of the state pension only, the employee must, on the day following the date of “retirement”, have reached the age eligible to receive a state pension.

4.1.3 In the case of an NHS Occupational pension, the employee must have made an application to the Scottish Public Pensions Agency for payment of their NHS Scotland superannuation schemes pension from the date of their retirement or deferment of their pension.

4.1.4 In the case of a personal/private pension, the employee must have made an application to their pension provider for payment of their pension from the date of their retirement.

4.1.5 Unless at least one of the above criteria is met and evidence provided, the employee cannot access any of the benefits contained within this policy.

4.1.6 Employees who are retiring on ill health grounds may also benefit from this policy.

4.2 Working Hours Reduction

In order that an employee can adjust to the prospect of retirement, a retiral plan including use of any outstanding annual leave and gradual reduction in working hours must be agreed and in place six months before the date of retiral. A gradual reduction in hours may be introduced three months prior to retirement (pro-rata for part-time staff), in line with the needs of the service, for example:

Third month before retiral - 4 days or 80% of contractual hours

Second month before retiral - 3 days or 60% of contractual hours

Last month before retiral - 2 days or 40% of contractual hours

During the phased retiral reduction in hours, the employee will continue to be paid as if at work. 

Employees will be entitled to one phased retiral opportunity. For example, staff who retire and plan to resume employment with NHS Fife at a later date will only have this entitlement in respect of their actual retirement.

Where an employee disagrees with the line manager’s decision, they will have recourse to the NHS Fife Dealing with Employee Grievances policy (See Section 7).

SECTION 5: Retire and Return to Part Time Working

5.1 Introduction

A process to support employees to retire and return has the potential to reduce some of the effects of changed pension provisions, workforce supply issues and the transfer of specialist knowledge and skills. The following principles have been established on an interim basis pending consultation on the full NHSScotland Retirement Policy. There is no right for an employee to return to work automatically following their retirement. However, this arrangement offers an accelerated route to support a return to work and potentially benefits both employer and employee. The retire and return route is not available to staff who retire because of ill health or organisational change or the pension category of efficiency of the service. The identification of other possible employment for staff in these categories should be managed in line with the appropriate policy. Please refer to the Attendance Policy the Capability Policy or the Board’s Organisational Change Policy

5.2 Application process

The employee should complete a retire and return application form (Appendix 6) for consideration at the same time as they apply for their pension. The manager and employee should then discuss and agree options for a return to work. A manager with sufficient seniority (Service Manager or equivalent) to understand broader workforce implications and plans must authorise the application. The completed retire and return application form (Appendix 6) should then be held in the employee's personal file. An outline of the process to be followed is attached in Appendix 7

5.3 Return to existing post

When considering an application, the manager needs to assess the needs of the post and the service. This should include potential barriers such as:

  • any planned service redesign
  • the availability of posts to support redeployment. Refer to the Redeployment Policy Managers are requested to contact their local HR Officer/Advisor prior to agreeing to a retire and return application regarding current redeployment position.
  • the need for the post to be full-time or the requirement for on-call

The manager may explore other options if they cannot consider a return to the existing post. For example, the returner can be considered for posts within the same job family. Alternatively, the returner can apply for advertised posts on these websites through open competition:

5.4 Return to a different role or grade

A returner can apply for a post in the same job family either at a different grade or elsewhere in the service. The employee should approach their manager to see if there is a suitable vacancy to match their skills and experience. If so, their application for the vacancy should be considered before others. For example, a retired physiotherapy team leader returning to a band 5 physiotherapist post. Re-employment into the same job family will not require the usual recruitment process for appointment to a part-time post. This will be limited to vacant posts within the authorising Service Manager or equivalent’s remit.

Re-employment to a different job family, for example, from nursing to administrative services, must be made through normal recruitment processes. The employer will appoint the individual on a substantive or fixed-term contract, depending on the advertised post.

5.5 Return to a bank contract

A returner may wish for more flexibility in their working pattern. Therefore, continuing with an existing bank contract or returning to a contract for service with the staff bank may be considered.

5.6 Contractual Issues

The employee will need to resign from their original NHS contract of employment so they can be terminated from payroll. If the individual intends to access their NHS pension, they must complete the relevant paperwork at least 4 months before their retirement date. On re-employment, the employer will offer a new contract for the part-time or alternate role. This contract will normally be made on a permanent basis unless the post would have been advertised as fixed-term contract, had it not been filled by the returner.

NHS terms and conditions states:

The following employment will not count as reckonable service for the purposes of redundancy:

  • employment that has been taken into account for the purposes of a previous redundancy, or loss of office payment by an NHS employer; or
  • where the employee has previously been given pension benefits, any employment that has been taken into account for the purposes of those pension benefits.

Under employment law, the individual's continuity of employment will be broken if there is a break of more than one week (measured Sunday to Saturday) between retirement and return. Therefore, if there is a break of less than one week between retirement and return, continuity of employment will be retained. If continuity of employment is broken this will effect statutory entitlements and an employee’s ability to raise certain claims at an Employment Tribunal.

NHS Terms and Conditions cover NHS entitlements, such as annual leave and sick pay. The NHS Terms and Conditions set out the maximum break allowed before previous NHS reckonable service is discounted. Each entitlement, such as sick pay, annual leave, or redundancy, will have maximum break provisions.

The individual will be re-employed on the most recent pay point on their basic salary scale if returning to their current, or an equivalent, post. This rate of pay will not include any protection of earnings applicable to their previous role or any allowances, unless they relate to the new part time role i.e. return is to the existing post. If returning to a lower-graded post, they will be placed on a point on the pay scale that reflects their years of experience. In most cases this will be the top of the new pay scale in line with the terms and conditions (DL(2021)47).

The Interim National Arrangements state: Employers should work with Medical and Dental Consultants to agree the most appropriate way for them to be re-employed in the service. It has been subsequently agreed with NHS Fife’s LNC that, where the service are able to advertise a permanent part time, appointment will be in line with the extant Statutory Instrument and Advisory Appointment Committee arrangements; otherwise any retire and return would require to be on a locum fixed term basis. Associate specialists will be re-employed on a locum Consultant basis.

Executive Directors, who are appointed members of an NHS Board, may retire and return to a different post in the same job family. To return to their previous Executive Director post on a part-time basis will require consideration in line with the Ministerial appointments process.

5.7 Appeal process

The employee will have a right to appeal within 14 calendar days against the decision to refuse a request for retire and return. When exercising this right, the employee must identify the reason for their appeal. The appeal panel Chair, in accordance with the scheme of delegation, will be responsible for identifying membership of the appeal hearing panel. The Chair will also be responsible for ensuring that all parties are advised in writing of the arrangements, no later than 14 calendar days prior to the hearing.

5.8 Appeal Outcome

Following the hearing, the Chair will write to the employee and all relevant parties with the outcome of the appeal hearing. This should include the rationale behind any decision taken in response to the employee’s grounds for appeal. The letter will be issued within 7 calendar days following the appeal hearing. The outcome of the appeal will be final for this application.


NHS Retirement Fellowship

NHS Fife actively supports the NHS Retirement Fellowship. Employees are encouraged to take advantage of the benefits and facilities offered by this organisation, which has branches throughout Scotland. Further details can be found on:


Resolution process

The right of appeal against the refusal of a Retire and Return application is detailed at section 5.7 and 5.8. Should there be any other dispute regarding the application of this policy, this should be resolved in accordance with NHS Scotland Grievance Policy at Grievance Policy