HR management is key to beating the ill-health retirement culture prevalent in local authorities, according to the director of operations of the London Pensions Fund Authority.
At the recent National Association of Pension Funds conference, Philip Goodwin said the approach to the ill-health retirement issue – of making it more difficult to receive ill-health benefits – had not concentrated on wider issues.
He said, “There is a growing realisation that emphasis now needs to be placed into improved HR policies during the working lifetime if a sustainable reduction in the levels of ill-health retirement are to be effected.”
He said the stark difference in levels of ill-health retirement between authorities with similar pension schemes and general nature of work was indicative that the HR policy was the strongest defining factor separating the authorities.
He cited an authority where ill-health retirement had been cut by a third with no increase in the rate of staff sickness absence.
Goodwin said, “Early intervention by occupational health therapists can reduce the number of working days lost and reduce the likelihood of ill-health retirement.”
He concluded, “The previous levels of ill-health retirement are an HR management issue first and a pensions issue second, and it is to be expected that the more significant contribution to the debate in the next few years will come from creative HR policies than from changes to pension schemes.”