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Category Human Resources
Type Guideline
Approved by Vice Chancellor, August 2005
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 August 2005
Last approved revision 4 April 2019
Sponsor Director of Human Resources
Responsible officer Manager, Promotions & Remuneration, Human Resources

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


To guide staff and HoD /Managers on the process for planning and applying for retirement, including University's expectations where phased retirement is requested.

Organisational scope

These guidelines apply to all permanent university staff.


Full-Time Equivalent – equivalent proportion of full-time employment
Refers to the HoD /Manager (academic or professional) with the delegated responsibility for the management of a staff member
Retirement refers to a staff member deciding to end their paid employment with the University and leave the workforce
Phased Retirement
Phased retirement is where the University has agreed that a staff member who has decided to retire may progressively reduce their hours of work over a defined period, culminating in full retirement at a specified date


  1. General principles

    1. A staff member may submit a request to retire according to the provisions in their employment agreement, where the staff member is clearly at the end of their career and is withdrawing permanently from substantial paid employment. Approval may be given in other circumstances by mutual agreement including retirement on medical grounds.
    2. Early planning for retirement is mutually beneficial in that it gives both staff and the University a more secure future, and enables both parties to plan with confidence.
    3. The University will provide guidance and support to staff wishing to plan for retirement, including an opportunity to explore options for managing a transition from full-time active service to retirement.
    4. The timing of retirement is a matter of individual choice, contractual notice period, and mutual agreement between the University and the staff member.
  2. Retirement planning

    1. It is important that the disruption caused by the loss of expertise through retirement be minimised as much possible through early advice and planning. Some considerations in relation to succession planning within a Department, School and Division:
      1. Review the demographic profiles of staff to look for indicators or periods of change – e.g. is there a number of key staff where retirement within 3-5 years is likely?
      2. Are there any specific issues related to succession planning in a particular discipline or expertise?
      3. Are there staff with the appropriate capabilities and attributes available to fill key positions?
      4. What strategies are being developed or implemented to develop staff to fill key roles in the future?
      5. What are the characteristics of the future pool of academic staff (or other occupational groups) in particular disciplines - is it growing, shrinking, ageing or becoming younger? What are the inter-Divisional needs and options for inter-disciplinary collaborations?
      6. Are there strategies to attract, replace and retain future staffing in “at risk” areas? For example: retirement and phased retirement plans; professional development and mentoring programmes; building structured and supported career pathways; and flexible employment arrangements.
      7. Career planning discussions in performance review processes may include, where appropriate, retirement considerations. It may be appropriate to seek Human Resources advice.
    2. Staff are encouraged to plan and prepare actively for their retirement and to discuss their retirement plans with their HoD /Manager at an early stage.
      1. Information is available from Human Resources.
      2. Financial advice can only be provided by a registered Financial Advisor. The University is not qualified to provide financial advice. Regular financial planning seminars are provided by external advisors and staff are encouraged to attend.
      3. Retirement Seminars are provided and staff are encouraged to attend.
  3. Superannuation

    1. The University is party to a subsidised superannuation scheme – UniSaver – that eligible staff are encouraged to join. It includes a KiwiSaver Compliant version.
    2. Enrolment in a superannuation scheme does not occur automatically with the start of employment. Staff are required to apply to join a scheme.

    Note: Some staff are members of other schemes such as the Government Superannuation Fund which are no longer available to staff. Details can be viewed on the Human Resources website.

  4. Retirement

    Staff who wish to retire will ideally discuss this with their HoD /Manager in advance and must provide at least the minimum notice period required in their employment agreement. The staff member's notification of intention to retire must be made in writing to their HoD /Manager.

  5. Phased retirement

    1. Phased retirement may be granted where it is considered to be of benefit to the University as well as to the staff member.
    2. Phased retirement is formalised by a variation to the employment agreement. The variation must specify: FTE changes; the effective dates for each reduction; the retirement date; and the grade and step. If circumstances change, the variation may be varied by mutual agreement.
    3. Staff members on phased retirement will, within the constraints of a reduced FTE , be expected to continue to meet the normal range of duties for their role (e.g. a senior lecturer will continue to teach, conduct research and provide service appropriate for their role or a Service Representative Ask Otago will be available for rosters and tasks of the role within the FTE .) The HoD /Manager will consult with the staff member to determine the amount and type of duties expected.
    4. Staff intending to request phased retirement are recommended to consider the implications for their superannuation as some schemes have different criteria. Staff should seek appropriate advice from the scheme provider or Human Resources.
    5. A staff member who is eligible for a retirement gratuity will be paid the gratuity at the proportion they were employed at immediately prior to commencing the phased retirement. The phased retirement period will count towards the calculation of the payment.
    6. A participant will remain eligible for consideration for promotion and progression. Where a staff member is approaching their final retirement date their HoD /Manager may agree to waive a performance review.
    7. Office and/or laboratory space and other support services will be allocated using the appropriate considerations. These requirements will be negotiated when developing the provisions of the variation.
  6. Applying to retire

    1. An employee considering retirement or phased retirement should discuss this with their HoD /Manager and other appropriate persons, well in advance of the formal request.
    2. The staff member will complete a form, either
      1. notifying of their retirement date, having taken into account the notice period in their employment agreement and their planning discussions with their HoD /Manager; or
      2. applying to take phased retirement. If they are applying for phased retirement they will be required to provide the desired FTE (s), effective date(s) and duration of the phased retirement; the supporting reasons for the phased retirement; and implications for the role and the impact on their area of work.
  7. Approval process

    1. Requests for retirement that meet the provisions of the employment agreement and do not include a phased period, will be approved by the normal approver for that appointment level.
    2. The HoD /Manager will consult with the applicant and appropriate staff or HoD /Managers to evaluate requests in terms of planning, duration and FTE levels, personnel needs, costs, space and support requirements for the applicant and potential replacement (s), and other pertinent factors.
    3. Where phased retirement is requested, the HoD /Manager will make a recommendation to their Divisional Head via the appropriate approvers. The Divisional Head will review the proposed terms and the departmental recommendation, and consider the broader interests of the University. In some instances it may be appropriate to discuss the application with the Vice Chancellor. The Divisional Head will make the final decision.
    4. If the phased retirement is approved, the Retirement Application form will be sent to HR Services to draw up a formal variation of the terms of their employment. No agreement will be final until both parties have signed this variation.
    5. If the request for phased retirement is declined then the HoD /Manager will advise the employee and review the options if appropriate.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Dan Wilson
Manager, Human Resources – Promotions and Remuneration
Tel +64 3 479 8092

Please note: These Guidelines update and replace the Retirement Policy which was in effect until March 2019.

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