Leaves for Illness or WSIB
Members have the option of continuing to contribute to the Plan while on an unpaid leave of more than one month due to illness. This includes periods where the member's absence from work is related to an approved claim under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and has been approved by the employer as a leave of absence for purposes of WSIB.
For these leaves, both the member and the employer pay a portion of the cost if the member chooses to continue contributing.
- The cost to the member equals the contributions he or she would have paid if the leave had not been taken. This cost is based on:
- OPTrust’s member contribution rate in effect during the period of the leave
- the member’s salary rate at the beginning of the leave, plus escalation where the leave spans a calendar year, and
- the member’s normal rate of credit accrual (i.e. at the ratio of scheduled hours worked to regular full time employment for the position).
- The employer’s cost is also based on the employer contributions that would have been paid had the member continued working. This is calculated using the formula for the employer’s buyback cost for non-contributory service with an employer that contributes to the Plan.
Leaves While on WSIB
When a member is on an approved WSIB leave of absence, the effect on his or her pension contributions and credit depends on the phase of the WSIB leave period:
- During the phase when the member is paid by the employer, the employer will continue to deduct contributions automatically, and the member will accrue credit at his or her normal rate.
- During the phase when the member is paid directly by WSIB, he or she has the option of paying contributions to OPTrust or not. As with other leaves due to illness, the member and employer must complete and submit the OPTrust 1025 form. The member and employer costs are calculated in the same way as for other illness leaves.
- If the member is paid directly by WSIB, but is eligible for or qualified to receive payment under the employer's Long Term Income Protection (LTIP) plan, the member is considered to be on LTIP for pension purposes. The employer is responsible for remitting both the employer and employee contributions for the entire period that the member qualifies for LTIP. Contributions are based on the contribution rates in effect during the period, the member's pre-injury or pre-illness salary rate, plus escalation for each subsequent calendar year, and the member's pre-injury or pre-illness credit accrual rate (i.e. the ratio of scheduled hours worked to regular full time employment for the position).
Where members resume employment on a gradual basis or at reduced work hours during their recovery from injury or disability, they are considered to be participating in a Return-to-Work arrangement. Return-to-work arrangements are classified into three categories: Rehabilitative Employment, Temporary Job Accommodations and Permanent Job Accommodations. While return-to-work arrangements typically occur at the end of a member's WSIB leave or LTIP benefit period, they may occur during any phase of the leave or benefit period.
Rehabilitative Employment (LTIP only)
Rehabilitative Employment refers to arrangements where the member's return to work occurs during the LTIP benefit period and while the member continues to receive full or partial disability benefits. These arrangements are invisible for pension purposes and have no impact on the member's pension.
Pension contributions and the accrual of credit continue to be based on the member's regular, pre-disability employment and do not take into account the member's actual earnings nor the actual hours worked during the period of rehabilitative employment.
Temporary Job Accommodations (WSIB only)
Temporary Job Accommodations refer to arrangements where the reduction in the member's hours is of a temporary or finite duration. They may occur at any phase of the leave period during which the member is in receipt of benefit payments from either the employer or from the WSIB.
Temporary job accommodations are considered to be part of the member's approved WSIB leave period, so for pension purposes, they are invisible and have no impact on the member's pension.
Pension contributions and the amount of pension credit that can be accrued continue to be based on the member's regular, pre-injury or pre-illness employment and do not take into account the member's actual earnings, nor the actual hours worked during the temporary job accommodation.
However, the actual accrual of pension credit will occur only where contributions are mandatory (i.e. during the phase of WSIB leave where the member receives payment directly from the employer) or where the member elected to contribute during or after the period of the WSIB leave without pay (i.e. during the phase where the member receives a benefit directly from WSIB).
Where the employer determines the reduced hours of work to be "permanent" and no longer approves the member's WSIB LOA, then the return-to-work arrangement changes from a temporary job accommodation at the time of that determination.
Permanent Job Accommodations
Permanent Job Accommodations occur where the reduction in the member's hours is of a long-term or indefinite duration, and where there is no pre-determined or forseeable end date.
For pension purposes, permanent job accommodations are considered to be regular part-time employment.
Pension contributions are mandatory and are based on the member's actual scheduled part-time earnings. Pension credit accrues at the ration of the actual scheduled hours worked to the member's regular, full-time employment.
There is no opportunity for the member to purchase the difference between the hours worked and the regular full-time hours of the member's position.
For more information on the stages of a WSIB claim and the impact on salary payments and the member’s pension contributions, please refer to the WSIB and Pension Contributions Timetable in the Forms and Tools section.