Board Communique: April 6, 2020

Members will have a new option for buying service for a leave of absence.


Effective May 1, 2020, the Public Service Pension Plan rules have been amended to allow members to continue making contributions during an Employment Standards Act–approved leave of absence. This decision gives members who want to buy service the flexibility to choose the option that fits them best:

  • Continue making contributions during a leave
  • Buy back service after the leave

Option one: continue making contributions during your leave

Starting May 1, 2020, you can choose to continue making contributions during your leave by direct payment to BC Pension Corporation (corporation). This option is available for leaves that begin on or after May 1, 2020.

If you choose this option, the cost will be based on current contribution rates and your salary while on leave. The corporation will bill your employer separately for their portion of the cost.

You must apply to continue contributing within 30 days of starting your leave. Visit the plan website on or after May 11, 2020, for more information.

Option two: buy back service after your leave

Alternately, you can apply to buy service for your leave in one lump-sum payment after you return to work. You must buy service for the entire leave period, unless it makes your pensionable service exceed 35 years in total or 12 months in a calendar year.

If you choose this option, the cost will be based on your salary and the current member and employer contribution rates at the time you make the purchase. That means if your salary or member contribution rates increase after your leave, the cost of buying service will also increase.

You must apply to buy service within five years of the end of your leave or before you leave your job with your employer, whichever comes first.

Since the cost of buying service is based on your salary and the contribution rates at the time you apply, it's generally a good idea to buy service as soon as possible, before potential future salary or contribution rate increases.

What’s the advantage of buying service?

Buying service may increase your pension when you retire or allow you to retire earlier. When you buy service, you increase your pensionable and contributory service. Pensionable service is used to calculate your pension at retirement. Contributory service determines if your pension will be reduced and by how much.

What is an Employment Standards Act–approved leave?

An Employment Standards Act–approved leave is one that is covered under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). These include maternity, compassionate care, and parental or adoption leaves. When you buy service for an ESA–approved leave, your employer also contributes.

Not all types of leave are covered by the ESA. Contact your employer for more information about which leaves are covered.


Related content for the April 6, 2020 board communique

Taking time off work and buying service

External links for the April 6, 2020 board communique

Government of British Columbia information on leaves of absence