Guide for plan members

WorkSafeBC Pension Plan is committed to helping you make the most of your pension. This guide is a provincial requirement. Please use the links at right to explore the topics most relevant to you.

Buying service for a leave

You may be able to increase your future pension by buying service for an approved leave of absence.

Buying service for your leave of absence may increase the monthly pension amount you receive when you retire, or get you closer to an unreduced pension.

In most cases, you can buy service for your leave after you return to work. For certain types of leaves (such as maternity, parental/adoption and compassionate care leaves), you can also buy service for your leave by continuing to contribute while you’re away.

Leave of absence with partial pay, top-up or allowance from WorkSafeBC

During a leave with partial pay, top-up or allowance from WorkSafeBC, your pension contributions and pensionable service are adjusted. For example, if you receive half your regular pay during a leave, you will be making half your regular pension contributions and accumulating half your regular pensionable service. The amount of service available to buy is the difference between your partial leave and your normal assignment.

Unpaid leave of absence

During an unpaid leave, you do not contribute to the pension plan and you do not accumulate any pensionable or contributory service. However, you may be able to buy service for the time you took off work on an approved leave.

Eligibility for buying service for a leave

You can buy service for an approved leave if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were an active plan member before you took the leave
  • You are an active plan member when you apply to buy service
  • You apply within five years of the end of the leave
  • Buying the leave does not cause you to exceed the limits described below

Limits on buying service for a leave

You can buy service for leaves up to the following maximums:

  • 12 months of pensionable service in a calendar year.
  • Three years of maternity or parental/adoption leave over your career. If you take off more than three years total for maternity or parental/adoption leaves, you can purchase the portion above the three-year maximum as a general leave.
  • Five years of general leaves over your career.
  • 35 years of total pensionable service over your career.

Restrictions apply if you want to buy a leave of absence for a period when you contributed to a registered pension plan with any other employer. Contact us for more information.

What the cost will be

The cost to buy service for your leave of absence is based on:

  • The number of months of service you want to buy
  • Your current full-time gross monthly pensionable salary (or full-time equivalent, if you work part time)
  • The current employee and employer contribution rates

WorkSafeBC will pay the employer portion of the cost on your behalf for all eligible leaves.

Estimating the cost of a lump-sum payment

Sign in to My Account and use the personalized purchase cost estimator to find out how much it may cost to purchase your leave as a lump sum.

Estimating the cost of continuous contributions

If you’re planning to make continuous contributions to your pension during an ESA–approved leave, you can estimate your monthly cost by adding together the pension deduction on two biweekly pay stubs.

Additional cost considerations

  • Since your payment cost is based on current salary and contribution rates, buying your service earlier may be less expensive
  • If you are making continuous contributions, your cost may change slightly month to month with regular salary increases

Transferring service between public sector plans

The WorkSafeBC Pension Plan has transfer agreements with many public sector pension plans in Canada under the National Public Service Transfer Agreement (NTA). The NTA allows pension plan members to transfer their service from one plan to another.

This means that if you leave your job at WorkSafeBC and begin working for another employer that is also an NTA member, you may be able to transfer your eligible service from WorkSafeBC to the new plan.

Similarly, if you were working for an employer that is an NTA member and you begin working for WorkSafeBC, you may be able to transfer your eligible service from your previous plan to the WorkSafeBC Pension Plan.

It can be to your advantage to transfer your service to your new employer's pension plan, as you may be able to:

  • Increase your pensionable service and in turn increase your pension
  • Increase your contributory service, which may allow you to qualify for an unreduced pension earlier

However, it's not always to your financial advantage to transfer service. You may want to collect two separate pensions if either:

  • The total of the two separate pensions is more than a single pension after a transfer
  • You can collect a pension earlier under your former plan

It is a good idea to talk with an independent financial adviser to learn about your options before transferring service.

Disability and your pension

If you become disabled and are unable to work due to illness or injury, you may be eligible to receive benefits from WorkSafeBC’s LTD plan. These benefits generally pay you a monthly income based on a percentage of your regular salary while you are unable to work.

For information about how to apply for an LTD leave, contact WorkSafeBC Total Rewards.

While you are receiving benefits from WorkSafeBC’s LTD plan, you will continue to accumulate contributory and pensionable service as if you were still working. You are not required to pay your monthly pension contributions to the plan.

You may also be eligible to receive a disability benefit from the Canada Pension Plan.

For information about the Canada Pension Plan disability benefit, call 1-800-277-9914 or visit the Canada Pension Plan disability benefit website.