By Charles Phillips
Early retirement is a way organisations can get rid of staff in a manner that is dignified for the members of staff. It is offered to staff over 50 years of age. Under 40 it is early severance. The difference is that over 50 you get a monthly income which is notionally increased annually until you reach 55 and then actually increased after that age with the arrears of the percentage increase given to you when you reach 55. You also get lump sum. Under 50 you only get a lump sum and your pension is frozen until you reach the age you receive your state retirement pension. There are a number of reasons why people are given early retirement. One is to sack people who do not fit in with the modern work ethos. In other words they are too old fashioned and believe in doing a job properly. Another one is to save money. Older staff who have been in an organisation for a long time cost more than younger staff. Another reason is to cut staff. Most people when they reach 50 or more having slaved in a job for perhaps over 30 years can't wait to get out. It is also a useful way of getting rid of genuinely badly performing staff over 50. Some of these reasons also apply to staff under 50.
When one is offered early retirement you do have to think a little bit about it. It usually doesn't take much thought to persuade yourself of the benefits.
Apart from the joy of realising that you no longer have to participate in the daily grind the first thing that strikes you when you're offered early retirement is that you've reached journey's end. Oddly just before I finished I went and saw that play in London. Very appropriate. The other thing is you have to organise your retirement do. This is often in pub and can cost quite a few hundred pounds or even more. You want your leaving do to be a memorable one. You have to buy food and the first drink for everyone. Then you have to send the guest list out. Some people don't like it if they are not in the first set of invitations that are sent out and some even if they are in the first set of invitations act odd such as not turning up. One thing in the last weeks of your working life is to try and maintain the momentum of working well. This is very difficult. Very difficult. You're being liberated!
On retirement day it is advisable to have your farewell speech written out in advance. There is a danger that you might not be able to ad lib. You might even want to weep. I admit I had to control myself as I was tearful. Make sure you hand in your pass before you leave work. Make sure you have some good music. I'm afraid you do have to accept the fact that your boss is going to give a speech about you. You may not like them doing it, but you have to let them do it. And of course you will know that there is leaving card and a collection going round before you leave even though everyone tries to hide. Leaving day is your last staring appearance on the organisation's stage. It's your big day. Enjoy it. If any of your friend and colleagues offer to take you somewhere after the party accept it, but make sure you get home before midnight as that day is your day. And then when you get home it hits you. You realise that work is over. I remember my thoughts were when I got home that I was useful and no good for anything.
After having finished you realise that you have advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages are that you are going to have less money and it's not advisable to travel on public transport in the peak hours as that will cost you more. The advantages are that you are to some extent your own free agent. Within financial limits you can go where you like and when you like. No more putting in for leave and finding you can't do it because it clashes with someone else's or it's round an important deadline. You have no more annual reports to worry about. No more daily travel problems. No worries about taking too much sick leave. No worries about public transport problems or traffic problems. No more thoughts that in the winter you will leave home in the dark in the morning and arrive back home in the evening in the dark or that you could spend the whole of a lovely sunny summer's day inside a building. No more worries about trains getting held up and not knowing when you are going to get to work or get home. No more waiting on cold railway stations or cold bus stops in the winter.
One thing of course is to invest your money wisely, which was bit easier in 2005 when I finished than it is now. Get a couple of quotes from financial advisers. Of course if you want to spend the lump sum on something do so
Is there ever a good time to take early retirement? The answer is, if possible when you can get the best deal. As a civil servant I managed to my total service with added up to about 40 years which meant that I would get a half pay pension on leaving. There is no good time of the year to leave. If you go in April to February you will get tax paid back to you for the rest of the financial year. If you go in March it's a nice and convenient time at the end of the financial year. It does help though to go at the end of a month. That way you get a full month's salary. Another useful tip is to pay off your season ticket loan before you leave - otherwise you're going to pay the money owing to the organisation, which may come out of your final salary which will cause problems if the amount owing is greater than your net month salary.
The first year of early retirement is the best year. You have the feeling of playing truant from work. It's all so new. You go round places with a feeling of 'I shouldn't really be here. But I'm enjoying being here.' The hardest thing is going near your old building. It is possible to avoid it, but if you still keep in contact with people you've worked with it is practically impossible. When you meet them you have a feeling of sorrow for them that they have had to either take a day or half a day's leave or they have to go back to work after lunch whereas you don't. If you do go into the building you are having an encore. You are a member of the supporting cast in someone else show. My last encore was not until one year and seven months after I finished. And even now there may well be another encore or two in the future.
One thing is to keep the mind occupied. You start doing things that you intended to do when you were working, but didn't find the time to do so. For example I didn't start going to the village plays until I'd finished work. I just didn't have the time to fit them in. Of course what you propose or intend to do when you finish and what you actually do or even carry on doing what you started doing when you finished are not necessarily the same. I had the idea of going for walks every morning and actually bought two tracksuits. This idea fell by the wayside after a few weeks.
You can even get another job if you want. And I have known people who've done it. Trouble is if you worked somewhere which had a good leave allowance you might not want to work somewhere which has a lesser leave allowance. And the civil service had a very good leave allowance. Also the older you are the more difficult it is to get a job. More so now. You can of course do voluntary work for the community.
After one year you reach the first anniversary. That day you may sit down in an armchair and look at photographs or what ever of your last day at work - and remember it. And then everything becomes terribly normal.
And finally. If anyone asks me what I am? I tell them I'm a YAP. Which is short for Young Age Pensioner. I admit to once getting into a film a reduced price by telling the ticket seller what I was. And I wasn't trying to get in cheap.
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