Thursday, February 14, 2008

Phased Retirement: Employers Operating in the Dark?

Writing in Workforce Magazine, Michelle V. Rafter reports that many companies are implementing flexible workplace initiatives to hang on to valuable older employees. However, one attractive option--implementing a formal phased retirement program--is turning out to be easier to talk about than to do: U.S. pension reform laws passed in 2006 to ease restrictions on retirement-age employees who wanted to work a reduced schedule but still be able to collect payouts from defined-benefit pension plans have raised more questions than they’ve answered.

Accordingly, she writes, "At many companies, that’s put formal phased retirement programs on the back burner. Until things get sorted out, companies appear content to stick with informal arrangements." Among these informal arrangements are:
  • ad hoc deals with executives or other employees who are close to retirement age and valued because of their position, experience, skills or customer relationships, whereby, if the workers are over 62, they can remain working in some capacity and start collecting pension benefits.
  • encouraging employees to retire completely, wait for a period of months to pass, and then return as independent contractors, allowing workers to collect their full pension benefits and the company to retain their brainpower.
  • contracting with contingent worker organizations to manage retiree workers on their behalf.
Source: Workforce Magazine "Pension and Retirement Benefits: Phased Retirement--Firms Wing It" (February 4, 2008)

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