Under the OPSEU Pension Plan, there are several types of past service you may be eligible to buy back.
Service with an employer who contributed to the OPSEU Pension Plan, the Public Service Pension Plan, or its predecessor
This category includes employment in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) or any other employer that participated in the OPSEU Pension Plan, the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) or its predecessor. This service falls into two types.
“Non-contributory service” refers to periods when you and your employer made no pension contributions. This includes contract, unclassified, student and/or seasonal employment when you were not a member of the Plan. When you join the Plan, you could be eligible to buy back credit for this service.
IMPORTANT: When you join the Plan, OPTrust looks for a gap between your continuous service date and your plan membership date for an indication that you have prior non-contributory service. If OPTrust finds that you have prior non-contributory OPS service, we will "deem" you to have made an application and send you a cost quote automatically. Since we do not always receive an employee's full work history, it is still your responsibility to apply for all non-contributory periods.
Strikes and lockouts
If you go on strike or are locked out, the time you are away from work is also
considered non-contributory service. When you return to work, you will have the
opportunity to buy back credit for the service you missed.
“Contributory service” describes previous periods when you were a member of the OPSEU Pension Plan, the PSPP or its predecessor. If you received a refund of your contributions or transferred your entitlement out of the Plan when you terminated, you could be eligible to buy back this credit when you rejoin the Plan.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has set additional conditions for this kind of purchase:
- For service before 1992, you must pay for your buyback through a direct transfer from an RRSP or other tax-sheltered source.
- For service after 1991, your buyback must be approved by the CRA. Your buyback will generally be approved if you have enough unused RRSP room.
Optional membership in the
OPSEU Pension Plan
For most members, joining the OPSEU Pension Plan is mandatory. However, some people – including contract/unclassified and seasonal employees with the OPS or another OPTrust employer – have the option of enrolling voluntarily and starting to earn the same benefits as other OPTrust members.
Many of these employees later get permanent positions. When this happens they are required to join the Plan – and have the option of buying back credit for their previous non-contributory service.
By enrolling voluntarily while in an unclassified position, however, employees start to earn credit immediately. This eliminates the need to buy back this service, if they later get a permanent job. It is often less expensive, too, since the cost of buying back the service at a later date will be based on the member’s salary at the time OPTrust receives the complete buyback application.
Like any other member, those who join voluntarily can also apply to buy back credit for eligible past service – including any unclassified service before they enrolled in the Plan. Once enrolled, members cannot leave the Plan unless they terminate their membership.
Unpaid leaves of absence
If you take a leave of absence (LOA) without pay and do not make pension contributions while you are away from work, you will be eligible to buy back credit for the period of your leave, if you apply within the 24-month deadline.
Under the OPSEU Pension Plan, contributions for an unpaid LOA of one month or less are mandatory and are deducted automatically by your employer upon your return to work. These leaves do not affect your pension.
If you take an unpaid leave of longer than one month for illness, family medical leave, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), pregnancy, parental, adoption or special or educational purposes, you have the option of continuing to pay contributions – and earning credit – during your leave. If you don’t make contributions during your leave, you can apply to buy back this service after the leave of absence ends.4
PREGNANCY, PARENTAL AND ADOPTION LEAVES
Under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act there are special rules concerning pregnancy, parental and adoption leaves. During these leaves, you and your employer are required to make pension contributions, unless you elect in writing or online not to contribute. During these leaves, you can arrange with your employer to continue to have your contributions deducted from any Supplementary Unemployment Benefit (SUB) allowance that is paid to you by your employer.
FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVES
If you take a family medical leave of four consecutive weeks or less, then both you and your employer are required to continue making regular contributions to the Plan. If you take a family medical leave of five to eight weeks, you have the option of not making contributions. However, you must notify OPTrust, in writing or online, if you do not wish to contribute to the Plan for the period of the family medical leave. Please notify us before your leave begins.
Planning a leave without pay?
Make sure you let us know!
Before you start any unpaid leave of longer than one month, you should meet or notify your Human Resources representative to finalize all dates relating to the beginning and end of the leave and any Supplementary Unemployment Benefit (SUB) periods.
You should then inform OPTrust, whether or not you want to make contributions during your leave. This can be done either by completing and submitting the Application to Contribute During an Unpaid Leave of Absence form (OPTrust 1025), or by providing the information online using OPTrust’s secure Online Services. You can download the OPTrust 1025 form from the member section of our website. Filling out the form or using the web application will indicate to us whether or not you want to make contributions during the leave.
It is important that you provide OPTrust with the information before the start date of your leave. If you delay, we may be unable to deduct your contributions during the period of your leave. While you could still apply to purchase your leave as a buyback after the leave is over, this might increase your cost. You should ensure that OPTrust receives your completed online or paper form, even if you decide not to contribute during your leave.
IMPORTANT: You can apply online to :
- make contributions during your LOA, or
- buy back an LOA that has already ended
Special cases: WSIB and LTIP
There are complex rules concerning pension contributions – and buybacks – for periods when you are eligible for benefits from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) or your employer’s Long Term Income Protection (LTIP) plan.
WSIB: If you are off work due to a workplace injury and apply for WSIB benefits, then your contributions will continue automatically, as long as you are still paid by your employer.
If you are paid directly by WSIB, you have the option of paying contributions to OPTrust.
As with other unpaid leaves, you must complete an online application or Application to Contribute During an Unpaid Leave of Absence form (OPTrust 1025), indicating whether or not you want to contribute while you are away from work. If you choose not to contribute, you can apply to buy back the missed credit after the leave is over, subject to the Plan’s 24-month application deadline.
LTIP: If you are eligible to receive LTIP benefits while you are absent from work, your employer is required to pay both the member’s and the employer’s regular contributions. As a result, you will continue to earn credit for this period.
If you have any questions about your pension contributions while you are on WSIB or eligible to receive LTIP benefits, please contact OPTrust.
Service with another Canadian registered pension plan (Non-Ontario Public Service Buyback)
This category includes service with an employer that did not contribute to the OPSEU Pension Plan, the PSPP or its predecessor. To be eligible, you must have been a member of your previous employer’s pension plan for the period you want to buy back.
Under CRA rules:
- For periods before 1992, you must still have credit in the prior plan for the service you are buying and transfer the funds directly to the OPSEU Pension Plan. If you don’t have sufficient funds remaining with your previous pension plan, then to complete the buyback, you will be permitted to make a top up payment directly.
- For post-1991 service, your purchase must be approved by CRA.
Transferring credit under a reciprocal transfer agreement
If you still have credit in your previous employer’s pension plan you may be able to transfer this credit directly to the OPSEU Pension Plan under a “reciprocal transfer agreement.” Examples of transfer agreements include:
- the Major Ontario (Public Sector) Pension Plans (MOPPs) portability agreement, which includes 14 Ontario pension plans
- agreements between OPTrust and other pension plans, such as the Federal Public Service Pension Plan and provincial public service pension plans in British Columbia and Newfoundland.
These agreements set out specific eligibility criteria for transferring credit. If you are eligible, a credit transfer will generally cost you less than a buyback.
There are special transfer arrangements between OPTrust and the Ontario Pension Board (administrator of the PSPP). Transferring your credit from the PSPP to the OPSEU Pension Plan may be optional or mandatory, depending on your circumstances.
Strict time limits apply to these transfer options. If you have recently joined the OPSEU Pension Plan and think you may be eligible for a credit transfer, you should contact OPTrust immediately. For more information, see the Fact Sheet, Transferring Credit into the OPSEU Pension Plan, available from OPTrust or online.
If you have service with a prior employer that cannot be transferred because there is no transfer agreement or because transfer timelines have been missed, you may apply to purchase the service as a non- Ontario Public Service buyback.