Medical Retirement; How to Handle it


This week we are focusing on the topic of medical retirement; as an employer you may find yourself in a situation whereby someone is unable to continue in their role due to a medical condition which opens up the conversation about medical retirement.

Remember for the employee medical retirement can feel like hanging over the edge of the cliff whilst trying to hold onto a fraying rope for dear life. It is one of the biggest decisions an employee can make in respect to work and one which involves alot of emotion however it can also be a welcome relief and the start of a new chapter. It’s a major milestone in anyone’s medical journey..

So what is medical retirement? Well quite simply it is when an employee reaches a point where working is simply no longer feasible. It is often confused with capability dismissal. Sometimes  the employee reaches a point where it is no longer possible to continue in a role  however (and critically) they can still work in a different capacity (either within  your organisation or another) and therefore whilst your employment with your company may end their working life continues in another form. Medical retirement is a bit more of a full stop, when someone medically retires it is because they are unlikely to work again.

The process can take some time and there will always be some degree of medical input. Typically where someone has been off work for a significant period of time or you is unable to reach an acceptable level of performance you need to have an open, supportive conversation to explore how you can help starting with reasonable adjustments. Medical Retirement is a last resort so as an employer you need to ensure that you explore all options remember it is not an alternative to support or reasonable adjustments.

If you feel like you need to explore medical retirement or it is raised as an option by your employee it is really important that you get support from a HR professional, it is a huge step even if it is one the employee agrees with and it has to be done right. Make sure you are armed with as much information as possible before you make a decision. Here are some steps you might want advise your employee to take:

  • Speak to their pension provider (if you have a private pension) to get advice on whether they will support medical retirement and under what conditions.
  • Look into what additional or new benefits they may be entitled to
  • Get emotional support, such as counselling. Many of the major UK charities have dedicated counselling services that individuals can access free of charge.

Don’t forget our team of Business Partners are here to support, so if you find yourself in this position and need to talk through next steps we are here to support you.

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