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Career break guidance

A number of cases have come to light whereby a member has been offered a career break immediately following sick leave. Career breaks should not be used instead of sick leave, or to prevent the member accruing disallowed days. Where a member has reached a period of no pay sick, this should be recorded as disallowed days.

Career breaks can affect the pension benefits members are entitled to in a detrimental way if they opt to apply for ill health retirement or in the event of their death.

Please note if the member is having a legitimate career break; an employee may choose to continue making contributions to the NHS Pension Scheme during a career break; prior to the break the employee should make this decision in respect of their pension. Arrangements for continuing payments must be made prior to commencement of the break.


For the first 6 months contributions are payable, by both the employee and employer, as if the employee was at work.


An individual who has paid contributions regularly during the first 6 months of a break may continue to contribute to the scheme for a further period of up to 18 months (maximum of 2 years in total). During the extended period, the employee will be responsible for paying both their own and the employer’s contributions.


Contributions will be based on the employee’s normal pensionable pay. They must continue to be paid monthly, by standing order or Direct Debit; arrears will not be allowed to accumulate.


If contributions are not made as agreed, the employee’s pension record will be closed from the date of the last contribution.