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Tips | Work advice: how much notice should I give before retiring?

Reader 1: I’m 62 years old and plan to officially retire in seven or eight months. My plan is to give about three months’ notice to allow for a smooth transition, but my supervisor is giving me new responsibilities and assignments, which adds ethical questions of timing. When should I tell my supervisor about my retirement plans?

Reader 2: My husband asked his boss how long it would take to notify him of his retirement plans and he was told three months. He has now decided on a retirement date and must inform his boss soon.

How should he word his announcement? If the boss manages to find a replacement early, he may fire my husband before he is ready. We plan to use his paychecks during these three months to enrich our retirement funds.

Karla: Hold on. People still retire? With gold watches and farewell parties?

I’m joking, but only partly. First, it is commonly recognized that longer life expectancies, struggling savings accounts, and ever-increasing costs of living have retirement goals have been moved well beyond age 65 for many people.

And here’s a darker observation: A significant percentage of American workers over 50 are being pushed to leave their longtime jobs prematurely – too early to retire, but too late to return to full income.

A pre-pandemic study by ProPublica and the Urban Institute, that percentage rises to 56 percent of workers; more recently, Forbes, USA Today and my inbox suggest this trend is continuing, if not accelerating. Giving a long warning about retirement plans just seems to put your neck in front of the axe.

“How much notice do (employers) give when they fire an employee? That would be all I would offer (before retiring),” said Kevin Marek of Rhode Island, who spent 30 years in insurance administration before his position was eliminated on two weeks’ notice.

Likewise, I would be inclined to give the same advice for retirement as for resignation: no more notice than the length of time you can afford to go without that salary.

But after publishing a call For readers to share their experience, almost all respondents said they gave their employer at least 3-6 months’ notice, and sometimes more, without regret or worry.

The traditional retirement notice directive has therefore not yet expired. But first you need to ask yourself a few questions about your individual situation.

What kind of place do I work for?

Most retirees who advocated more notice came from academia and government, where careers are long, changes are slow, and recruiting qualified replacements is time-consuming and complex. So the threat of being deported prematurely is minimal.

Yvonne Stam, a retired judge from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, noted that the legal and medical professions often plan their work six months to a year in advance. At least six months’ notice is expected “in fairness to your colleagues who must assume your workload,” she said in an email.

Ask Amy: When should I give notice that I plan to retire?

Large private sector companies with redundant positions can generally absorb departures more easily, so extensive reporting may not be necessary – or advisable. But in bureaucratic or understaffed environments, even six months to a year’s notice may not be enough.

When Karen Feldt, a nurse educator in Lancaster, Pa., gave six months’ notice, the responses ranged from denial (“You’re not really ready to retire”) to panic (“You can’t go.” nowhere until we have overcome this ordeal). (project, transition, crisis)). His employer had not found a replacement when he left.

Teresa Adams of Madison, Wisconsin, actually received a promotion during her retirement notice period when her boss abruptly left for another job three months later and she was the only viable successor.

Chuck Taylor of Atlanta said a hiring freeze at his health system employer made it difficult to recruit a replacement, even with a year’s notice. “They ended up hiring me on a short-term 1099 contract after my employment ended” to help train his eventual replacement, Taylor said in an email.

Who am I to this employer?

We all want to think we are indispensable, but it is crucial to have a realistic conception of the role you play.

Executive coach Emily Rothberg noted on LinkedIn that for senior executives, at least a year’s notice of retirement is a standard succession planning strategy “so that key stakeholders… don’t panic thinking that the organization is adrift or in danger.

Amanda Cockrell, founding director of a graduate program at Hollins University, gave a year’s notice to give her time to transfer her institutional knowledge to her colleagues. “After 26 years, most of the program resided in my personal head,” she said in an email. “If I had only given them a month’s notice or something like that, it would have been a terrible disaster.”

Having unique skills or tasks provides some security. Mary Ryan of Baltimore gave a year’s notice to give her time to hire and train someone to take over her exclusive administrative duties. “I’m the ONLY person who handles contracts, marketing and other responsibilities” in her 25-person company, she said.

You may want to ration your notice based on need to know. Some readers informed management or HR early in the process to allow for planning, but waited to make a general announcement to colleagues to avoid an embarrassing lame duck period.

If you have upcoming service milestones, informing management of your plans can help protect the benefits you are entitled to.

When David Jones of Kapolei, Hawaii, learned that his health insurance employer was going to outsource his position, he stressed that the layoff would leave him only six months before a crucial 15-year milestone for retiree health coverage .

Whether out of generosity or to avoid the appearance that it was illegally trying to prevent Jones from claiming this retirement benefit, the employer extended Jones’ layoff date so that he could meet the threshold cover.

Fired FBI Chief Andrew McCabe Reclaims Retirement in Accord with DOJ

So now, after learning from these retirees, here is what I advise:

Reader 1: It’s a good sign that you’re being given more tasks. This indicates that your employer values ​​your work – and it’s good insurance against premature dismissal.

You can probably safely tell your boss about your retirement plans if these new tasks require a long-term commitment.

But even if you’re not ready to share the news, be sure to document your work and communicate project details to your colleagues in the meantime. They will appreciate it later.

Reader 2: It’s risky for your husband to offer less notice than the boss has specifically requested. But if he doesn’t trust the employer to let him complete his retirement on his schedule, he could give shorter notice, but sweeten it by offering to be available after retirement to consult, recruit and help train his replacement if necessary. Paid, of course.

No matter your situation, retiring on your own terms is ideal, as is Kelly M., a Seattle legal secretary. Even though her employer required three months’ notice of retirement, she resigned with two weeks’ notice. “I had seen friends of mine respond to such requests over the years only to be shown the door much sooner by other companies,” she said. “I had my finances in order and I was ready to go. No animosity on my part, but no reason to delay my departure.

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