SURVEY SAYS – Do You Offer Phased Retirement?

June 25, 2009 ( - This week, our bonus question comes from a reader, who was curious about how others were dealing with the concept of phased retirement.

The bottom line – phased retirement appears to be an idea whose time has not (yet) come.   A clear plurality ( 46.9% ) said that they don’t yet offer a phased retirement program, while another 28.6% said they had no interest in such a program.  

One in ten said they had a phased retirement program, but an informal one, with adjustments to PTO, retirement distribution availability, etc.   One reader noted, “We’ve allowed employees who are near or at retirement to work 3 longer days per week, allowing them to qualify for company full time benefits. Employees are happy for more time off, and the company is happy to keep their knowledge. This also allows us to cross train others to fill in when they are off.”    Or as another observed, “Yes, but real loose and on a case by case basis with adjustments varying widely based on the circumstances.”  

Another noted, “We allow people to use PTO to extend their employment while they are physically gone and we allow people to return after retirement with a suitable break in service. PTO only goes so far though and then they are retired or returned. I guess the definition of phased retirement is not clear enough to me to provide a good answer. We do not let them collect their pension benefit and continue to work until they actually retire and return. They can continue collecting their pension if they return to work.”

A mere 3% said they had a formalized program in place.

Just over 11% said they didn't current have such a program in place, but that they were interested in looking into the option.   One noted, "We are currently looking into the concept of creating a new class of employee. Regular employees would actually "retire" and those we want to hang on to would be rehired into this new class with a different work schedule and benefits programs. This would give us more control over the population we keep on while providing the phased employment people may want. Still investigating, but the concept seems promising. Potentially much easier to work with than the true Phased Retirement Programs under the regs." 

Other Observations

There were, of course, some interesting "observations":

Harkening back to our other question about workplace "loosening", one reader said, "Again, we can't give the impression that someone has a flexible schedule."

"I selected No, but are interested.... But, that interest may only be on a personal level as I haven't heard anything about this yet."

"I think all our 401(k)s are too out-of-phase to worry about retirement. Talk to me in a few years."

"Never been brought up for discussion but if it costs money management would have no interest."

But this bonus survey question's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "Our owner is 33 years old - need I say more?"

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!