Unless on the grounds of serious ill health, the earliest age you can retire is 55.
If you want to retire earlier than your normal pension age, you must let your employer know in writing at least 6 months before your intended retirement date.
If you do decide to retire earlier than your normal pension age, the pension you receive will be reduced to take into account that it is expected to be paid for longer. It’s recommended that you get a retirement quote from the Scheme administrators (JLT) before making any decisions about your pension or your job.
Occasionally, your employer may ask for volunteers to retire early or make staff redundant as part of a closure of a research unit; if this is the case, there may be special terms and conditions around early retirement. You can find more information in the staff guide to the MRC Redundancy Compensation scheme, often referred to as the ‘Blue Book’.