Before retirement

This page sets out general advice about pre-retirement issues for members of pensions scheme.

These and other issues are covered in detail in ATL's series of 17 pensions factsheets.

Phased retirement

Most occupational schemes now operate flexible retirement, whereby you can reduce your hours or level of responsibility and access part of your accrued benefits, whilst continuing to build up further pension. For information on the TPS's phased retirement scheme, refer to ATL's pension factsheet Actuarially reduced benefits and phased retirement.

Please note that from September 2010 the amount by which you must reduce your salary in order to qualify to take a phased retirement is changing to 20%. Until now the requirement has been to reduce it by 25%.

Maternity leave and pension contributions

If you are a member of the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS), you will be credited with service while you are on paid maternity leave as long as your pay is at least 50% of your normal salary. You will pay your contribution based on what you actually earn. While you are on unpaid maternity leave or earning less than 50% of your normal salary, you are still a member of the Teachers' Pension Scheme but will not be credited with service.

If you are a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), you will accrue full service throughout the 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave/pay. You will continue to make pension contributions on what you actually earn, if anything.

Beyond this 26-week period, if you have the right to return to work, you can choose to make contributions, which would be based on the pay (or reduced pay) that you were entitled to receive immediately before you commenced the period of unpaid maternity leave.

If you are a member of any other pension scheme, check your contract and with your employer for details of your participation in the scheme during paid and unpaid maternity leave.

There are changes to statutory maternity provisions from October 2008 and it is, as yet, unclear as to the impact these will have on pensions - this page will be updated when this information is known.

Supply teaching

Supply teaching, like part-time teaching, is automatically pensionable within the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS).
Your employer will record your time spent working on supply as "irregular part-time" and will record your FTE annual salary as well as the amount you actually earned.

This will then be shown on your Teachers' Pensions service record as reckonable service - each day worked will equate to more than one day of reckonable service. For pension purposes, 195 days worked on supply is regarded as one full year's service. This calculation is explained in more detail in ATL's pension factsheet Part-time and supply teaching and part-time lecturing.

Supply work through most agencies cannot be pensionable, even if you have elected to join the scheme as a part-time or supply teacher. This is because you do not have an employer/employee relationship with your agency. The fact that agencies do not participate in the TPS is a matter of concern to ATL and it continues to pursue the matter.

The reserve forces and TPS

Teachers in the reserve forces who are recalled for service can elect to remain in the TPS. You have to make this election within six months of returning to pensionable service in the TPS.

The election form (form 160) is available from your employer or Teachers' Pensions (postal address: Mowden Hall, Darlington, DL3 9EE, tel: 0845 606 6166). When completing the form, you should make it clear that you are a member of the reserve forces.

In the unfortunate event of a teacher dying during service in the reserve forces, s/he will be deemed to have made an election to remain in the TPS.

Annual benefits statements from TPS

Teachers' Pensions is sending out annual benefits statements for the year ending 31 March 2008 on a phased basis between June 2008 and March 2009.

Records are updated from information submitted by employers at the end of the financial year. Benefits statements are only issued once the employers' annual returns have been processed and will only be complete to 31 March 2008.

If you have any queries about your statement, you should contact the relevant employer for the period in question, as it is necessary for employers to notify Teachers' Pensions of any revisions to service records. If you are unable to resolve the problem with your employer, you should contact the pensions team at ATL's London office - you will need copies of all relevant pay slips (not P60s).

From this year, Teachers' Pensions will not issue paper copy benefits statements to anyone who has used the 'my pension online' service on the Teachers' Pensions website to access information on their pension benefits. If you still require a hard copy, you can request one by contacting Teachers' Pensions at the address or phone number given above.

Need more help on pensions?

For further information or for specific advice on pensions issues, please contact the pensions team at ATL's London office. The telephone number for pensions enquiries only is 020 7782 1600. Please ensure that you have your membership number and relevant papers to hand when contacting ATL.

Planning for your retirement involves many important and sometimes complex decisions. Endsleigh has been appointed by ATL as the preferred provider of financial advice, should you wish to seek this. Please visit their website or call 0800 917 8875 for more details. Telephone lines are open Monday – Thursday 9am – 8pm and Friday 9am – 5pm. Retirement planning DVDs and seminars are available upon request.

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