You can return to work after you've taken your pension benefit if you choose to.
From 1 April 2023, if you have 1995 Section benefits you can also return to NHS employment after retirement and build up further pension benefits in the 2015 Scheme.
This is already available to members of the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme and from 1 April 2023, it’ll also be an option for members who have retired with 1995 Section benefits.
If you have benefits in either the 1995 or 2008 Section and are currently non-pensionable because you have exceeded maximum service limits and had to stop contributing, you will be able to join the 2015 Scheme from 1 October 2023 if you first claim your pension benefits in full. This can be achieved by retiring and taking a 24-hour break in employment or by drawing down 100% of your pension on partial retirement. The age limit of 75 years for 2015 Scheme membership will still apply.
Read the information and factsheets to find out more about:
- the rules around returning to work in the NHS
- who you need to inform if you are returning to NHS employment
- if there may be an impact if you decide to return to work
Removing the 16-hour rule
Under the changes being introduced from 1 April 2023, if you decide to re-join the NHS, you’ll be able to work as many hours as you choose straightaway.
Up to 1 April 2023, 1995 Section rules have limited members to working 16 hours a week in the first month after retirement to avoid their pension payments being affected.
This rule has been temporarily suspended between 25 March 2020 to 31 March 2023 and the DHSC is now permanently removing this rule from 1 April 2023. This will mean that, as long as you’ve had a break of 24 hours from your previous job, you’ll be able to move to a new employment contract and start building 2015 benefits immediately.
As the DHSC is removing the 16-hour rule, they’re also changing the 1995 Section regulations to remove the 16-hour rule for members with more than one employment. Members with more than one employment will need to take a 24 hour break from all employments to be able to claim their pension.
If there may be an impact on your pension after returning to work (abatement)
If you are over the normal pension age (60 for 1995 Section members, 65 for 2008 Section members and State Pension Age or age 65, if later, for 2015 Scheme members) then your pension will not be affected if you return to work in the NHS.
Your benefits will also not be affected if you retired before the normal pension age and
- you are in receipt of redundancy benefits and retired on or after 1 October 2011. This is because the unreduced element of your pension has been funded using some or all of your redundancy compensation lump sum.
- you are in receipt of actuarially reduced early retirement benefits. This is because you have funded the early payment of your benefits by the actuarial reduction.
In all other types of early retirement, including ‘retirement in the interest of efficiency of the service’, your pension may be affected.
If you return to NHS employment or re-employment that is in respect of the provision of NHS services or in respect of the delivery of NHS funded services before your normal pension age your pension may be subject to a reduction. This is known as abatement.
Whether your pension is reduced or not will depend on the level of your earnings whilst re-employed.
This will also depend upon when you left the Scheme, when you claimed your pension benefits and the type of pension benefits claimed.
Abatement rules end once you have reached your normal pension age of the Section or Scheme from which you have claimed your pension benefits.
Abatement for Special Class or Mental Health Officer status is currently suspended until 31 March 2025.
This means if you are a Special Class or Mental Health Officer member, you will be able to return to NHS employment or increase your working commitments without having your pension payments reduced whilst abatement remains suspended.
Once the suspension ends you will be subject to abatement until age 60 under normal circumstances.
If you've already retired with 1995 Section benefits and returned to work before 1 April 2023
If you’ve already retired and taken your 1995 Section benefits and then returned to NHS work, you will be able to join the 2015 Scheme and build up further pension from 1 April 2023.
Before the changes take effect on 1 April 2023, you'll have previously been unable to build up further benefits in the 2015 Scheme. As a result, you may have an alternative pension arrangement, for example, the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), or you may not be contributing to a pension scheme.
If you’re newly eligible to join the 2015 Scheme on 1 April 2023, your employer will not be required to enrol you into the scheme. They must however notify all staff, who have taken their benefits from the 1995 Section and returned to work before 1 April 2023, that they are eligible to join the 2015 Scheme from 1 April 2023 if they wish.
If you're newly eligible to join the 2015 Scheme from 1 April 2023 and wish to take up the option, your employer must set up membership for you and may need to end any alternative pension arrangement you have.
If you choose to end your membership to an alternative pension arrangement, for example NEST, and join the 2015 Scheme, you may be able to transfer your benefits from the alternative pension arrangement into the 2015 Scheme. You have 12 months to transfer your benefits after becoming eligible to join the Scheme and must do so before your normal pension age.
You can find more information on our transferring into the scheme webpage.
Who you need to inform if you are returning to NHS employment
In all circumstances you must remember to tell your new employer that you are in receipt of NHS Pension Scheme benefits and also notify us that you have returned to NHS employment.
Read our returning to work factsheets for more information on returning to work after retirement or ill health retirement.
Returning to work following ill health retirement (PDF: 137KB)1995 Section - Death on re-employment (PDF: 163KB)