You don't have to stop work completely just because you've reached retirement age. Increasing numbers of retirees are working after and in retirement; some for the money they can earn to supplement their pension, others for the fun and sense of achievement. Whatever your motivation, staying active in mind and body is a smart move.

First off, do I have to stop working after retirement?

No. No one can make you stop working unless there’s a very good reason such as frailty or infirmity. In fact, it’s age discrimination if an employer refuses to let you work or asks you to retire – although there are some exceptions (such as military personnel, firefighters etc).

What if I can’t imagine ever giving up work?

If you’ve spent your working life going to the same place, surrounded by the same colleagues, then the idea of retirement can be overwhelming. But don't worry – you don’t have to give up work; although you may want a change of pace over time.

So try not to feel that you’re giving up work, or that you're no longer ‘up to the job’. Instead, approach this as a time in your life for new challenges and experiences – and perhaps focus on a new kind of activity, or employment, to keep you busy.

Should I consider changing employer as I get older?

Yes, this is always worth thinking about. Many companies pro-actively seek out employees with significant experience or time spent in customer facing roles. However, you do need to consider this carefully, as sometimes you will lose out on certain retirement benefits by changing jobs. In the end, it's just a good idea to consider what job will best suit you and your needs.

If I do give up work, will I still feel like I have a sense of purpose?

If you’re not working full-time then hopefully you’ll have filled your time with other activities and things you enjoy. But this is a time to look forward and work out how you can put your skills to use, and will give you a sense of fulfilment in the future.

What sort of part-time work could I do?

It’s good to be proud of your working life’s achievements and a little bit of part-time work can be hugely rewarding when you retire. It can also help to top up any shortfall if you find your pension income is less than you’d expected. Here are some things you could do if you are looking to start part-time work:

  • If you’re a carpenter, you could place an advert in a parish magazine or shop window offering to do odd jobs.
  • A keen gardener could advertise to do some lawn mowing or digging.
  • If you’re a retired nurse or teacher, you could do some babysitting.
  • Another option could be to volunteer your time to a charitable organisation like a local hospice or shop.

Will I be taxed if I continue to work in retirement?

You will still be liable for income tax in retirement. However, you won’t have to pay National Insurance contributions once you have reached state pension age. But if you really don’t feel ready to move on, speak to your company and see if you can defer retirement for a year or two. You should also try to save as much as you can for your retirement, just in case working isn’t an option in the future. 

What else should I think about?

There are a couple of things to consider if you’re planning to do more work after you officially retire:

  • If you get means tested benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, then your entitlement could be affected if you work beyond retirement.
  • If you do carry on working, but also take your State Pension and/or any private pension, this may tip you into a higher tax bracket.