Retirement vs. Resignation in Civil Service Employment

Within the civil service, resignation and retirement are vastly different things. When you resign, you must officially notify your employer of your intention to quit immediately or at a future date.

On the other hand, you must have met specified conditions to stop working after several years in service to retire. Retirement is not resignation, and you should not confuse the two. So, it helps to know the difference between retirement and resignation so you can determine what works best for your needs.

Retirement vs. Resignation: How Work Ends

When you resign, you are simply quitting your job. Generally, it is good to issue a notification that gives your employer some advanced warning before you cease work. Two weeks tends to be the standard notification period, especially within the federal government.

During that time, your employer will reassign your duties work. However, it would help if you were considerate enough to give longer notice if you perform critical roles.

It’s also worth noting that different public sector employers may require other notification times. What may work for one state’s civil service resignation process may not work for another. So, bear that in mind.

When civil servants retire, they stop working for their employer after putting in at least the minimum years of service. These vary depending on what kind of civil servant you are and where you work. And once you resign, you can begin collecting the benefits for which you are eligible.

Retirement vs. Resignation: Minimum Age Requirements

One advantage of resigning is that you can do it at any time so long as you hand in your notice. You don’t have to wait until you are in middle age. Quitting can happen even when you are in your 20s or 30s. It’s up to you to decide whether you are done with your current work environment.

However, retiring from civil service is not that easy. You must put in a specified number of years of service or reach the set age before retiring and accessing your benefits. Typically, under the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), you must be at least ​55 years to receive your retirement benefits. However, you must have ​30 years​ of service to get them in full. That said, you can retire early at 50 years so long as you have at least ​20 years​ of service.

Likewise, under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you must be at least ​55 years​ old with ​30 years​ of service. Alternatively, you can retire at an older age with fewer years of service. For example, you can retire from civil service with only ​five years ​of service provided you are ​62 years​ or older.

However, you can retire before meeting the minimum age requirement if you don’t mind accessing reduced retirement benefits. Also, if you become disabled, you could retire and may still be eligible for retirement benefits.

Retirement vs. Resignation Reasons

People usually resign for various reasons. As a civil servant, you could leave for any of the following reasons:

  • To take up another job that pays higher compensation and better benefits
  • To enjoy a better work-life balance
  • To avoid working for a toxic boss or work environment
  • To work for an employer who shows more appreciation
  • To move to a different country
  • To find more challenging work that accommodates career growth
  • To find a new purpose

Reasons for retiring are just as varied, especially when you consider taking early retirement.

How Do You Resign From The Civil Service?

When you decide to resign from civil service, you should write a resignation letter and include all the relevant details, such as your effective resignation date and signature. Try to do that at least two weeks before the day you want to be entirely out of the civil service. Also, if your public sector employer requires you to fill in a resignation form, do so.

If you don’t know who to submit the resignation to, your immediate supervisor is an excellent point of reference. Your resignation will then be forwarded to the human resources director or any other relevant office and processed. Alternatively, you may need to submit the resignation letter on your own.

If you have money due to you, such as unused leave and earned overtime payments, ensure you follow up on that until you get what is owed. In addition, take steps to return every piece of government equipment that you were given.

Always aim to leave your employer without burning your bridges, especially when resigning. You never know; you may need to work for them again. So, ensure you maintain excellent relations until the end. And if you can, you should try to hold on to your civil service job until you qualify for some of the retirement benefits you have worked to earn. It never hurts to have multiple retirement income streams.