Leaves of Absence
Generally speaking, a leave of absence is a period when you're off work and not paid. This creates a gap in your pensionable service, which is a key factor in the calculation of your pension. Buying eligible service (referred to as a buyback) lets you fill a gap in your service and increases the amount of your future pension.
If you're off work but your employer continues to send contributions to SFPP on your behalf, there's no gap in your pensionable service. If you'd like to contribute while on leave, contact your employer for the details of their policy.
For the first year of leave that you buy, your employer pays their share of contributions with interest, and you pay the employee share. Only the first year of leave is cost-shared this way. You will pay the full amount for subsequent years of leave.
If you purchase any subsequent leaves, that service will be used in your pension calculation. However, if you leave the Plan before you are eligible to begin your pension, this additional service will not be used to calculate your commuted value (CV) payout. Instead, the amount you paid will be refunded with interest.
You are able to buy up to 5 years of leave under SFPP, plus up to an additional 3 years of parental leave.
Paying for a Buyback When You Leave Your Employer
If you're already making buyback payments when you leave your SFPP employer, you'll have 90 days to complete your buyback purchase. If you don't, the amount of service attached to that leave will be prorated—only the amount of service you have paid for will be applied.
If you don't return to work at the end of your leave, you must apply to purchase your leave within 30 days of the day you stop contributing to the Plan.
Pay for Less Than the Whole Amount
If, at any point, you know that you won't be buying the full period of leave, contact us as soon as possible for more information on how to buy a portion of your service. If you wish to pay for only part of your buyback, your service will be prorated—only the amount of service you have paid for will be applied.
Any period of leave which includes pay from a disability plan not filed with SFPP is considered a leave of absence. It will be eligible for buyback.
Process to Buy a Leave
If you want to buy a leave, contact your employer's human resources area. Once your employer tells us that you have a leave of absence that can be purchased, you will be sent a package called a Buyback Proposal. This Buyback Proposal will tell you what you need to know to buy the gap in your service.
You must let us know you want to purchase your leave of absence by the earlier of:
- 90 days from the date you are sent your Buyback Proposal; or
- April 30th of the year following the year in which your leave ended.