How time off work affects your pension
You can buy service to cover an approved leave of absence, which will increase the value of your future pension benefit.
Over the course of your career, there may be times when you decide to take a leave from work – such as maternity, education or general leave.These unpaid leaves will affect your pension. During an unpaid leave you do not receive pensionable or contributory service because you are not working or contributing to the plan.
However, you may be able to buy service that covers your approved leave.
This is a way of buying eligible pensionable and contributory service for periods when you were off work to increase the number of years that count toward your pension. This could get you closer to an unreduced pension and may increase the amount of your pension benefit when you retire.
The cost to buy service is calculated by multiplying the length of your leave by the employee and employer contribution rates and your full-time equivalent salary on the date you apply to buy service.
WorkSafeBC will pay the employer portion of the cost on your behalf for all eligible leaves.
Income Tax Act rules allow you to buy a lifetime maximum of:
- Five cumulative years of general leaves
- Three cumulative years of maternity, parental or adoption leaves
When you buy service, the value of your pension increases, which can affect your tax situation. You may wish to seek advice from an independent financial planner before deciding to buy service.
You may also pay back a refund and reinstate service from a previous period of employment with WorkSafeBC. This applies if you withdrew your pension contributions from the plan when you left your job and are now an active member of the plan. You will need to repay the amount you withdrew, plus interest. Members who join the plan on or after January 1, 2017 are not eligible to pay back a refund and reinstate service.
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For information on the tax implications of buying service, please contact the Canada Revenue Agency by phone or visit their website.