Phased Retirement for Staff

Phased Retirement for Staff enables staff members with ten or more years of service an opportunity to transition into retirement if it is mutually agreeable with the department. The employee works a reduced schedule (not less than 20 hours per week) and pay is reduced accordingly during the phased retirement period. It is an arrangement mutually agreed to by the department and employee for a limited period that must be at least six (6) months, but not more than three (3) years in length. The employee agrees to retire at the end of the term.


Prior to beginning a phased retirement, the employee must discuss and formulate a plan for this formal flexible work arrangement. Not all jobs will be suitable for phased retirement and the manager must approve the arrangement. Written approval by way of a signed letter with attached job description is required. It is essential that this plan be thoughtfully developed prior to beginning the phased retirement transition.


Pay & Salary
Retirement Plans





   • 60+ years of age


   • 10+ years of service to University


   • Employee must be in a benefits eligible position scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week


   • Employee must have a history of acceptable work performance


Note: In order to retire with benefits from Emory University, sum of age and service must

equal 75+.





   Length of Phased Retirement Arrangement

   • Minimum of 6 months

   • Maximum 3 years



   Percent of Time Reduction

   • Minimum of 10%

   • Maximum 50% but not less than half time



Pay & Salary

   • Health and dental premiums will be based on status prior to the commencement of the program. For

     example, if a full time employee premiums will remain based on being a full time employee even if

     time is reduced to 50%.


   • Salary will be based on revised job responsibilities (if appropriate) and adjustment of

     work hours.

   • Merit increases will be based on current phased retirement salary

   • In some cases, the employee may be able to use vacation leave to reduce hour at work without a

      reduction in salary.




   • Benefits based on salary i.e. life insurance, retirement contributions, long and short term disability  

      benefits will be based on current salary.


   • Vacation, sick and floating holiday accruals will be based on current work schedule. Leave accrued

      while working full time schedule will be available for employee use.

   • Courtesy Scholarship and Tuition Reimbursement benefits will be based on eligibility prior to

      participation in the program.

   • Employee will remain eligible for other benefits i.e. Long Term Care, Met Pay, Flexible Spending

      Accounts, etc.

   • In the event the employee has a workers’ compensation claim, the benefit will be based on phased

      retirement salary.

   • Social Security and Medicare employer contributions are based on phased retirement salary.


      Using Vacation Leave to Offset Reduction in Salary

        1. Reduce effort and use accrued vacation or floating holidays to offset the reduction in salary. This  

            does not save money for the department, but does provide flexibility for the employee and gives 

            the department an opportunity for robust knowledge transfer, reorganization of duties and

            provides the department with time to prepare for the employee’s retirement. Again, while this

            option doesn’t save the department money, it can assist in determining if current staff can

            manage the workload, offer possible promotional opportunities for existing staff, and/or allow

            time to hire replacement staff if necessary.


            For example, a long term employee with 320 hours of accrued vacation leave and 2 floating  

            holidays could reduce their time by 20% and continue working at least 42 weeks without taking a

            reduction in pay. Variations could be developed based on using accrued vacation leave and

            departmental need.


        2. Combination of accrued vacation leave and reduced pay not running consecutively. Arrangements

            using a combination of reduced time and vacation accruals may be attractive to employees whose

            work is highly driven by students and the times of the year when they are not as busy i.e.



For example, an employee who does the majority of their work during the academic year, could reduce summer hours while working under a phased retirement plan and use a combination of accrued leave and a reduction in pay. A minimum of 20 hours per week is required.



Retirement Plans

    • Eligibility to participate in the Emory University 457(b) and 403(b) plans will not be impacted by

       participation in the phased retirement program.


    • Employees may begin withdrawing employer contributions (in addition to their own contributions)

       from their 403(b) funds while participating in the program.


Other Requirements for Phased Retirement for Staff

    • Employee is committed to fully retiring from current position at the end of the agreed upon

       arrangement. Due to workforce planning requirements, the decision to participate in the agreement

       should be considered as final.


    • A signed Letter of Understanding with approval by the staff person’s manager and local HR

       representative/director is required.

    • Participation in the program must meet the needs of the department/school/business unit.

    • The actual percentage of time reduction and length of arrangement must fall within the thresholds

       established and is at the discretion of the department/school/business unit.

    • Typically, an employee would not work for another university department or Emory HealthCare while

       participating in the program.

    • At times, business needs may require that the employee adjust his/her schedule and the employee

      will be expected to make all reasonable accommodation for the department.

    • Participation in the Staff Phase Retirement Program is not a guarantee of employment. If a layoff,  

       reduction in force or reduction in hours is necessary the employee will be subject to the same criteria

       as all other employees.

    • Employee is expected to adhere to all department and university policies regarding attendance, and

       performance and will be subject to the same disciplinary processes as all other employees.

    • The employee can accelerate the date of retirement.

    • The final retirement date may only be extended if there is a compelling business reason or some

       other extenuating circumstances in the work unit (i.e. unfinished project, staff shortage, etc.) The

       extension must have a set end date and requires approval by unit management.




Steps to Prepare for a Phased Retirement

If you are interested in phased retirement, here are the steps to prepare for this transition:


    1. Do your homework – Schedule time to review the information outlined on this web page that will  

        impact you specifically. This includes meeting with any financial advisors, benefits specialist,  

        Work/Life Representative, and local HR representative and have them explain things to you and

        answer questions you may have. It is recommended to do this 6 months to 1 year prior to phased



    2. Prepare to discuss with supervisor – Plan to have a discussion with your supervisor about your

        interest in phased retirement and how it can be helpful to you and to your department. You and your

        supervisor must determine whether or not phased retirement is an appropriate fit for your job. Note:

        Phased retirement will not be suitable for every work situation. Putting thought into how this

        transition will work is recommended prior to meeting with your supervisor, but ultimately, this plan

        should be developed together. The Emory WorkLife Resource Center can assist you with this

        preparation and can be reached at (404) 727-1261.

    3. Document plan – Work with your unit management to develop a plan for how your workload, job

        responsibilities, and hours will be adjusted over the expected time period. Effective planning is key

        to successful phased retirement. Planning should include specifics that will be incorporated into your

        signed letter of agreement.

    4. Obtain written approval – Written approval by your manager and local HR representative/director is

        documented in the Staff Phased Retirement Letter. See template for example. A copy of your job

        description during phased retirement should be attached to the letter. Copies of this should be made

        for each of you and kept in your personnel file in your work unit.

    5. Share transition with team – Discuss with your supervisor how and when your transition will be

        communicated to your work colleagues.

    6. Begin phased retirement transition



Phased Retirement


Phased retirement refers to broad range of flexible retirement arrangements, both informal practices and formal workplace policies, which allow employees approaching retirement age to reduce the hours worked or work for their employers in a different capacity after retirement.

Possible Benefits
Possible Challenges

Assist organizations with succession  

  planning, transfer of knowledge, and

  retain skilled workers


Requires significant advance planning

  (recommended 1+ year) by employee,

  department, manager, human resources

Allow the user to juggle competing non-

  work responsibilities (i.e. providing care to

  a family member)


As with other flexible work arrangements, not

  all jobs will be suitable for phased retirement

Enable the user an opportunity to

  transition into retirement rather than  

  make an abrupt exit from the workplace


Could possibly have a financial impact on

  department while transition takes place i.e.

  (two benefits eligible employees managing

  the work of one job)

Encourage the user to remain connected to

  the organization, former colleagues, and




Provide income for those whose retirement

  funds are insufficient