Bridging to an unreduced pension
If you receive a layoff notice, you may also be able to “bridge” to an unreduced retirement option, depending on your circumstances. (See the fact sheet Pension options when your employment ends).
Who is covered
Pension bridging requires a special provision in your collective agreement. In the Ontario Public Service (OPS), a bridging option is currently available to OPTrust members who are declared surplus and are covered by the Central Collective Agreement between OPSEU and Management Board of Cabinet. Bridging is also available to eligible employees in the OPS who are affected by a divestment.
Other OPTrust members may have access to a bridging option under their own collective agreements. In these cases, the terms of the bridging option may vary depending on the specific language in each agreement.
If you receive a layoff notice and think you may be eligible for pension bridging, please contact your employer, union representative or OPTrust. Your employer must agree to this option for you to be eligible.
How bridging works and determining your eligibility
Pension bridging allows eligible members to continue earning pension credit between the date they receive their surplus notice and the date they would have qualified for an immediate unreduced pension. This is done by combining:
- your surplus notice period
- the period represented by your severance payments, and
- an unpaid leave of absence of up to two years.
During this “bridging period” OPTrust continues to receive pension contributions and you continue to earn credit in the Plan – allowing you to reach your nearest unreduced retirement date.
If you are eligible, your bridging period will first make use of your surplus notice period (normally 6-months) plus the period represented by your severance payments when converted to a paid leave of absence (varies based on your length of service). If these two periods are not enough for you to qualify for an unreduced pension, an unpaid leave (to a maximum of two years) is used to make up the difference.
To qualify for this option, at the end of the bridging period, you must be eligible for an immediate unreduced pension from OPTrust.
Your contributions during the bridging period
During the bridging period, your OPTrust pension contributions are paid as follows:
- Surplus notice period: During your surplus notice period, your contributions will be deducted from your pay. Your employer will pay matching contributions based on OPTrust’s employer contribution formula.
- Unpaid leave of absence: For this period, you can make arrangements with your employer to pay your share of pension contributions on your behalf by deducting them from your severance pay.
- Paid leave of absence representing your termination payments: During this paid leave of absence, your pension contributions will be deducted from your earnings, and matched by your employer.