Occupational Health Service

Ill Health Retiral - information for managers

Ill-health retiral: If you have a member of staff seeking IHR and they are a member of a University pension scheme (or any pension plan which has an ill-health retiral scheme) the manager WILL seek advice from HR, and in consultation with the staff member will make a referral to OHS for an assessment to be made of their eligibility for ill-health retiral on medical grounds. Guidance on Ill-Health Retiral can be found in Appendix IV of the relevant policy (link below)

Absence Management Policy

Human Resources

Advice for the individual

If you are absent from work due to a long-term serious or terminal illness, and are a member of a University pension scheme, or another pension plan which has an ill-health retiral (IHR) scheme, you may be able to retire early on grounds of ill-health. If you are considering doing so, you should contact the Pensions Department as soon as possible. You are strongly advised to seek pension advice as soon as possible, as, if you have a life-limiting medical condition, you may be able to give up all or part of your pension in exchange for an immediate lump sum. N.B. You cannot be asked to apply for IHR. It is your pension fund and therefore, once you have all of the relevant facts, it is solely your decision. Please refer to the absence management policy (link above) for guidance and the link below for contact details for Pensions;


Referral to OHS

The referral document ‘Referral for Assessment of Ill-health leading to Early Retirement on Medical Grounds’ should only be used to assess if the current health of an employee would meet the criteria required by their pension provider for the individual to be considered for early retirement on the grounds of ill- health (IHR). The employee will have to be assessed by the Occupational Health Physician (OHP) who is approved by the individual pension schemes to do this.

This will require the OHP to consider all the medical evidence available and include assessing the individual; only after this will the OHP be able to decide if  an application can be progressed with the support of the OHP opinion. The rationale and opinion will be indicated to the individual concerned, and only with their consent, will the evidence be sent to Pensions Department for them to present the information to the pension provider for assessment. The potential for unsuccessful application as an outcome will require prior discussion with Human Resources, the manager concerned and the employee as effectively the individual will have been deemed unfit for further work if the application is progressed.

NB If an application is to be progressed, and dependant on which pension provider is relevant; both management and Human resource representative may be contacted by OHS with specific request that they complete or provide further documentation. This may be required by the particular pension provider, or if the information in the referral document requires clarification, including requirement for further detailed information about the individuals employment, adjustments or other considerations that have been considered or trialled in the workplace. 

Completing the form

The person making the referral should ensure the referred employee is aware of the referral, its purpose, that the individual is in a pension scheme and that they wish to progress the application. They cannot be compelled to do so. Please also ensure the guidance on the form is followed and the declaration is completed.

Ill Health Retirement Referral Form

The completed form should be sent in confidence preferably electronically or if required by internal mail to the Occupational Health mailbox where it will be passed to the relevant adviser for your area.


Occupational Health Service

  • Health and Safety Department
  • The University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Drummond Street Annexe
Drummond Street

Post Code


The Occupational Health Unit is staffed by registered health and accredited specialists in Occupational Health, who provide a confidential service.

This means that personal information is treated in medical confidence, and will not be shared unless the employee gives consent.

The exception to this is where Occupational Health are given information which is considered to pose a significant risk to health and safety of the individual or others.