Retraite Québec 
     
     
     
 

  Home > Life events > Absences > Absences without pay


You are a member of the RREGOP

Plan concerned: The RREGOP

Here are answers to frequently asked questions by people who took time off without pay during their working career.

Click on the topic of your choice:

 

Period of absence without pay

What periods of absence without pay can be bought back?

  1. Period of absence without pay

    You can buy back your periods of absence without pay that began after you became a member of the plan, regardless of whether the period of absence was for a single day or a longer period.

    An absence can be considered a period of absence without pay provided all the following conditions are met:

    • it must be provided for in your conditions of employment
    • it must be authorized by your employer, except for periods of absence resulting from a strike, a lockout or a disciplinary suspension
    • you must not have received any remuneration during the period in question
    • you would or could have worked had it not been for the absence.

    You can also buy back periods of absence that have never been bought back and that are within a period for which we refunded your contributions, provided you were a member of the same plan as you currently are.

    Parental leaves are also periods of absence without pay to which you are entitled following the birth or adoption of a child. The length of the leave varies according to your working conditions. Most collective agreements in the public and parapublic sectors provide for parental leaves that can last up to two years.

    Compassionate care leaves that were in progress on 1 January 2012 or that began after that date can also be bought back. This type of leave is a maximum of 104 weeks during which an individual is absent from work for family or parental obligations, such as to care for a family member who was injured in an accident or has a severe illness. While on leave, individuals can pay contributions to their plan to their employer. If they do not, they can ask to buy back that period once they return to work.

  2. Maternity leaves that began prior to 1 January 1989

    You can buy back maternity leaves that began prior to 1 January 1989, even if they ended after that date.

    Maternity leaves lasted 17 or 20 weeks, and were granted by the employer based on the employee’s working conditions.

  3. Periods of absence that do not need to be bought back

    If you are a member of the RREGOP, short periods of absence without pay that began on 1 January 2002 or later do not have to be bought back since you continue to contribute to the plan.

    The periods of absence are:

    • full-time periods of absence of 30 consecutive calendar days or less
    • part-time periods of absence of no more than 20% of a full-time employee’s hours (e.g., one day a week)
    • maternity leaves that began after 31 December 1988, which are automatically credited under your pension plan and are credited via your employer’s annual report
    • periods of absence without pay due to illness or disability when you are receiving benefits under a mandatory salary insurance plan, since the periods of absence are automatically credited under your pension plan for a maximum period of three years.

    The periods of absence without pay that can be bought back vary depending on the pension plans and special conditions that may apply. In general, if you apply for a buy-back for a period of absence without pay within 6 months following the end of that period, the cost of your buy-back could cost less than if you file your application later.

How a leave without pay affects your public-sector retirement pension

A few years ago, I took a leave without pay. Will this affect my public-sector retirement pension when I retire?

It depends on the period and the length of your leave.

If, since 1 January 2002, your leave lasted 30 consecutive calendar days or less, or if you took a part‑time leave equal to 20% or less of the regular working time of a full-time employee, then you contributed to your public-sector pension plan the same as if you had been working. Your leave of absence will therefore not affect your pension when you retire and the period will automatically be credited as service to your pension plan.

However, if you took your leave before 1 January 2002, or if, after 31 December 2001, your leave lasted more than 30 consecutive calendar days or was taken part-time at a rate of over 20% of the regular working time of a full-time employee, you did not contribute to your public-sector pension plan during your leave. The days you were absent will therefore not be included in the calculation of your retirement pension, except if you apply for what is called a buy-back.

Advantage of a buy-back

Is it to my advantage to buy back periods of absence without pay?

Yes. Your public-sector retirement pension is calculated on the basis of the number of years of service credited to your account at the time of your retirement. Therefore, if you are entitled to buy back certain periods of absence, you could have them credited to your pension plan. This would increase the amount of your retirement pension. It is important for you to know that only the buy-back of certain periods of absence can allow you to retire earlier.

Note: If you have accrued almost 40 years of credited service as at 31 December 2018, you should verify if it would be to your advantage to buy back service. For further information in this regard, contact the public-sector pension plan administrator at your current workplace, generally in the human resources department.

Are the days of absence without pay I have bought back considered days of membership in my public-sector pension plan?

Yes. The days of absence without pay that you bought back are used both to determine your eligibility for benefits and to calculate the amount of those benefits.

Can an incomplete year of service for calculation purposes be credited as a full year of service for eligibility purposes?

Yes. This is a provision that applies only to individuals who were members of the RREGOP or the PPMP on 1 January 2000, or who have become members since that date.

Within certain limits provided for under the Income Tax Act, you will automatically be credited at no cost a full year of service under your public-sector pension plan for eligibility purposes if, during the year:

  • you worked part-time;
  • you worked only part of the year;
  • you were absent without pay for all or part of the year

Note: As a rule, this provision applies to years of service accrued since 1 January 1987. However, for casual employees in the public-service sector, the education sector and the health and social services sector who are not on a recall list, the provision applies only to years of service accrued since 1 January 1988.

Example:

Max is a member of the RREGOP and has a full-time job. In 2007, he took a 6-month leave of absence without pay. At the end of 2007, the RREGOP credited Max with a full year of service for eligibility purposes and half a year of service for calculation purposes.

 

In 2010, I took a 6-month leave of absence without pay. Why do I have to buy back that period of absence without pay when my public-sector pension plan automatically credited me with a full year of service for 2010 at no cost?

It is important to note that your public-sector pension plan credited you with a full year of service for eligibility purposes, not for calculation purposes. Therefore, if you want 2010 to be credited as a full year of service for calculation purposes, it is to your advantage to buy back your leave of absence without pay.

To find out more about the way your retirement pension will be calculated, click on the following link:

 

Part-time work

If I work part-time, can I buy back the days during which I do not work?

No. In order to buy back a period of service or a period of absence without pay, you must have had employment ties with your employer during that period.

When you work part-time, employment ties exist only for the days included in your work schedule. Therefore, you cannot buy back the days during which you do not work.

Example:
Jerry holds a part-time job where he works 3 days a week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). Since he works for his employer only for those 3 days, he cannot buy back the other 2 days (Thursday and Friday) because they are not included in his work schedule.

However, if Jerry were absent without pay during the days included in his work schedule (Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday), he would be entitled to buy back those days of absence without pay.

 

Days of absence resulting from a strike, a lockout or a suspension

Is it possible to buy back days of absence resulting from a strike, a lockout or a suspension?

Yes. You can buy back days of absence without pay resulting from a strike, a lockout or a disciplinary suspension under certain conditions.

Parental leave

I took a leave of absence without pay following my maternity leave. Can I have it credited under my public-sector pension plan?

First, for the purposes of your public-sector pension plan, the leave of absence without pay you took following your maternity leave is called a parental leave.

The rules determining whether or not this type of leave can be credited under your pension plan depend on whether you held regular or casual employment at the time your parental leave ended. Briefly, the rules are as follows:

  • You were a regular employee when your leave ended.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave ended before 1 January 1991, your parental leave was treated as a period of absence without pay. Therefore, you can have it credited under your pension plan by buying back the service.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave began after 1 January 1991, special rules apply to your parental leave. For further information in this regard, click on the following link:

 

  • You were a casual employee in the public service sector, the education sector or the health and social services sector without being on a recall list when your leave ended.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave ended before 1 January 1988, you cannot have your parental leave credited under your pension plan.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave ended after 31 December 1987, but before 1 January 1991, only your parental leave that occurred after 31 December 1987 can be credited under your pension plan, provided you buy it back. For further information in this regard, contact the public-sector pension plan administrator at your place workplace, generally in the human resources department.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave began after 1 January 1991, special rules apply to your parental leave. For further information in this regard, click on the following link:

 

  • You were a casual employee on a recall list in the health and social services sector when your leave ended.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave ended before 1 January 1987, you cannot get your parental leave credited under your pension plan.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave ended after 31 December 1986, but before 1 January 1991, only your parental leave that occurred after 31 December 1986 can be credited under your pension plan, provided you buy it back. For further information in this regard, contact the public-sector pension plan administrator at your workplace, generally in the human resources department.
    • If your maternity, paternity or adoption leave began after 1 January 1991, special rules apply to your parental leave. For further information in this regard, click on the following link:

 

Periods of absence for health reasons, leave of absence for family or parental obligations and compassionate care leave

You have to leave work for health reasons, or to fulfill family or parental obligations.

The Act respecting labour standards provides that you can benefit from a period of absence without pay while preserving your employment relationship in case of an absence for health reasons or accidents as well as for family or parental obligations. The Act also provides that you can benefit from a compassionate care leave, that is, an unpaid leave of absence to take care of a family member or to provide long-term care, as well as a period of absence without pay in case of a tragic event such as a criminal act, the disappearance of a child or the suicide of a loved one.

You must contact your employer to obtain a period of absence without pay. He or she can also inform you about continuing to pay your contributions to your public-sector pension plan during your absence or buying back that absence.

Note that the cost of the buy-back of such an absence corresponds to the cost of an absence without pay. However, for a compassionate care leave in progress on 1 January 2012 or that began after that date, the cost of the buy-back for the period following 31 December 2011 corresponds to the cost of a parental leave. For more information on the subject, click on the following links:

  • Life events > Absences > Absences without pay > You are a member of the RREGOP > The cost of a buy-back
  •  Life events > Absences > Absences for the birth or adoption of a child > Parental leave > You are a member of the RREGOP and your maternity, paternity or adoption leave was in progress on 1 January 1991 or began after that date > The cost of a buy-back

For more information about those types of absences, we invite you to visit the website of the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) This link will open in a new window..

 

How to buy back service

What do I have to do to buy back periods of absence without pay?

You must send the form entitled Application for a buy-back of one or more periods of work This link will open in a new window. (RSP-727A-WRK) to Retraite Québec, along with the required supporting documents, if any, while you are still a member of your pension plan.

If you have questions regarding your situation, you can contact:

  • the pension plan administrator in your human resources department
  • your union, or your professional or managers’ association
  • Retraite Québec’s Centre des relations avec la clientèle.

Once Retraite Québec receives your buy-back application, we will contact your current employer and the employer or employers concerned by the periods to be bought back in order to obtain the information required to process your application.

If the study of your file shows that the periods can indeed be bought back, we will send you a buy-back proposal, which you are free to accept, in whole or in part, or reject. The proposal will indicate the cost and payment terms of the buy-back, and will be valid for 60 days.

Please note that if we do not receive your acceptance of the buy-back proposal within 60 days from the date of the proposal, your buy-back application will be considered to never have been made.

Do I have to buy back all of my periods of parental leave without pay?

No. Under the provisions of your plan, up to 90 days (called 90-day bank) can be automatically added at no cost to your years of service to offset certain periods of absence free of charge. The days in your 90-day bank are automatically credited when Retraite Québec determines whether you are entitled to a retirement pension. It provides the same advantages as a buy-back.


Periods of absence completed at no cost by the 90-day bank

Before 1 January 2011

After 31 December 2010

Every period of absence without pay

Every period of absence without pay related to a parental leave

Note: The 90-day bank is covered by the following plans: the RREGOP, PPMP, RPSO, PPPOCS and PPCT.

When Retraite Québec processes your buy-back application, it will deduct the number of your days of absence that can be offset at no cost by the 90-day bank from the number of days of service corresponding to the period concerned by your application. It will prevent you from paying to buy back the days of absence that could be credited to you at no cost. However, if you would rather buy back all your days of absence, which means you would like that the 90-day bank not apply while processing your application, it must be specified in the space provided for that purpose in the form entitled Application for a buy-back of one or more periods of absence This link will open in a new window. (RSP-727A-ABS).

The days credited from the 90-day bank will be fully credited and included in the calculation of your pension. The days of absence that ended before 1987 will also be taken into account to determine your eligibility for benefits. Days of absence since 1987 have already been credited for eligibility purposes.

Furthermore, the parental leave that you can buy back must have been taken while you were a member of the RREGOP or the PPMP.

Since I started working, I have taken a total of 120 days of parental leave without pay. As the public-sector pension plan will credit me with 90 days at no cost for the calculation of my retirement pension, can I only buy back the remaining 30 days?

Yes. Under the provisions of your plan, up to 90 days (called 90-day bank) can be automatically added at no cost to your years of service to offset certain periods of absence free of charge. Therefore, if you file your buy-back application and you have 120 days to be bought back, we subtract a maximum of 90 days from those days to avoid buying back days that you do not need to. You can buy back the remaining 30 days that will be indicated in the buy-back proposal that Retraite Québec will send you.

Is there a deadline for filing my buy-back application?

Yes. As a rule, we must receive your application while you are still a member of your public-sector pension plan. However, since the cost of buying back a parental leave is determined on the basis of your annual pensionable salary and your age on the date we receive your application, it is to your advantage to file your application as soon as possible after the end of your period of absence, because it could cost less than if you file your application later.

 

Cost of Buying Back Service

How much does it cost to buy back a period of absence without pay?

It is important to note that the cost of purchasing a period of absence without pay is calculated differently according to whether we receive your buy-back application within 6 months following the end of that period of absence or more than 6 months after the period ended:

  • If we receive your application within 6 months following the end of your absence, the cost to purchase this period will be 200% of the total contributions you would have paid had you been working during that period, or 100% of the total contributions in case of parental leave.
  • If we receive your application more than 6 months after your absence ends, the cost to purchase this period will be established on the basis of your annual pensionable salary on the date your application is received. A percentage is applied to the salary. This percentage varies according to your age, the period being purchased and your pension plan.

    The cost of your buy-back must be at least equal to 200% of the contributions you would have paid for the period covered by the buy-back in case of an absence without pay which started after 31 December 2007, or 100% of the contributions, in case of a parental leave.

You can quickly and easily obtain the approximate cost of the buy-back you are contemplating using the following calculator:
Buy-Back Cost Estimator This link will open in a new window.

 

Calculator

 

Useful forms

To apply for a buy-back, send us one of the following two forms, or both, according to your situation:

 

To Learn More About Your Public-Sector Pension Plan