Orientation: Job characteristics play a major role in shaping employees’ early retirement decisions.Research purpose: The objective of this study was to examine the mechanisms through which job characteristics associate with early retirement intention, using the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model as a theoretical framework.Motivation of the study: Early retirement presents a threat to existing health and pension systems, and to organisational functioning. Therefore, it is important to examine how workrelated factors contribute to early retirement decisions.Research design, approach and method: Two parallel processes were theorised to shape early retirement intention: a health impairment process (i.e. job demands → recovery need → early retirement intention) and a motivational process (i.e. job resources → work enjoyment → early retirement intention). Survey data were collected from a heterogeneous sample of 1812 older workers (age > 45). Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses.Main findings: Job demands and job resources were both associated with work enjoyment, which was associated with early retirement intention. Recovery need did not add to the prediction of early retirement intention.Practical/managerial implications: To retain older workers, companies should promote work conditions and practices that keep older workers motivated. Good health may be a necessary condition for retaining older workers, but it does not appear to be a sufficient one.Contribution/value-add: The results suggest that – for early retirement intention – the motivational process is more prominent than the health impairment process.