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COVID-19 guidance on support for retired members

The UK government’s Coronavirus action plan, published on 3 March 2020, sets out measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes increasing the available health and social care workforce by removing barriers to allow recently retired NHS staff and social care workers to come back to work and tackle the outbreak.

From 25 March 2020, the UK government’s emergency legislation, which has received Royal Assent, temporarily suspends some of the regulations governing the administration of NHS Pensions. These measures will allow skilled and experienced members, who have recently retired from the NHS, to return to work. It will also allow retired members who have already returned to work to increase their commitments if needed, without affecting their pension benefits. 

The measures predominantly affect members of the 1995 Section, although a smaller number of members could be affected by draw down abatement in the 2008 Section and the 2015 Scheme.

The measures include temporary suspension of:

  • the 16-hour rule
  • abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Section
  • abatement in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme

Information for current pensioners and those planning to retire (PDF: 145KB)

Temporary suspension of the 16-hour rule

This rule currently prevents members who return to work after retirement from the 1995 Section of the NHS Pension Scheme from working more than 16 hours per week in the first calendar month after retirement.

Suspension of this rule also allows members to return immediately to work after taking a minimum 24-hour retirement and continue their existing working commitments, or increase them, whilst they are in receipt of their full pension benefits.

Temporary suspension of abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Section

This will remove a barrier which stops special class nurses and mental health officers aged 55 to 60 years old, who have claimed their pension benefits, from returning to work without having their pension suspended

The abatement rules also apply to people who have retired on ill health grounds or in the interests of the efficiency of the service (IES), along with a limited class of persons who have retired on redundancy grounds. These measures do not suspend the abatement rules that apply to these groups

Temporary suspension of abatement in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme

This is where a person has elected to ‘draw down’ a portion of their benefits and subsequently wishes to increase their earnings or commitment to the NHS so that they are in excess of 90% of the level before draw down was taken.

International Mail

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Royal Mail may not be able to send communications by Air Mail if you live abroad. You can see if this affects your country of residence on Royal Mail's website

This will not defer any pension payments being made and you will receive written communication when available transport links resume. 

We’ll publish more information as this becomes available.

For more information, visit the Department of Health and Social Care website: Emergency bill to strengthen coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans Coronavirus Bill: Summary of Impacts