Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

WORK LIFE - RETIRING RIGHTS

  • Comment
The policy paper on the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme published by the ODPM last month discusses a ...
The policy paper on the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme published by the ODPM last month discusses a number of significant issues, including flexible retirement and possible increases in the staff contribution rate.

But to those of us who have been around in local government human resources management for more years than we may care to remember, it heralds the end of a long-established right - the immediate payment at 50 or over of a pension (usually with added years) on redundancy or retirement in the interests of the efficiency of the service.

This latter phrase has conveniently never been defined and its elastic meaning has been applied to a variety of often contentious situations, allowing staff to leave on agreed terms without the need for an acrimonious battle in employment tribunals.

The existing early retirement provisions on redundancy and efficiency grounds have their origins in a famous letter of dispensation from the Department of the Environment in 1976, whose contents were later confirmed by way of regulation. The 1976 letter was issued in response to the financial crisis facing a number of councils, which, for the first time, were having to make many staff redundant.

Immediate pension with maximum added years at 50 or thereabouts then became the target for many to aim at, and the bull's eye was often achieved.

In its 1997 report, Retiring nature, the Audit Commission signalled the end of what many critics saw as a gravy train, and very few, if any, officers now retire on quite such generous terms.

More recently, the Inland Revenue in its consultation paper Simplifying the taxation of pensions has said by 2010 the earliest age at which pension benefits become payable - apart from ill-health cases - should be 55.

A number of councils, as well as the Employers' Organisation, have said the

change should come in from April 2005 for local government and the ODPM is now proposing this.

It is also being suggested that an unreduced pension at 55 should no longer be an entitlement on redundancy, though councils would have the ability to provide such a benefit if they wished.

So it is goodbye to 50 as the magic age to attain. Although the forthcoming changes are no doubt justified on policy and financial grounds, they will provide a real challenge as to how to handle those problematic employment cases which, in the past, have been resolved relatively easily. Far more issues could come before the courts.

Tim Rothwell

Director, HR Consulting, Tribal GWT

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.