A Legal Strike and Your OMERS Pension
When you are on strike, you do not earn any pay from your employer. Therefore, OMERS contributions are not deducted and there is no credited service added to your pension record for the strike period. For pension purposes, the time period of the strike is not included on your pension record. Your employer will report this time to OMERS as a leave period if it was a scheduled workday.
Yes. OMERS rules allow a member, on a voluntary basis, to make a service purchase for the period of a legal strike. Once the strike has ended, your employer will provide you with a service purchase application form. If you choose to pay the cost of the service purchase, the time period of the strike will be added to your pension record as credited service.
Leave periods that are not consecutive, such as a collection of one-day walkouts, can be reported as part of a calendar year. Absences for each calendar year can be administered separately, each resulting in different purchase deadline(s).
For example, if a one-day walkout occurred in 2019, the deadline to purchase will be December 31, 2020. If another one-day walkout occurred in 2020, the deadline to purchase will be December 31, 2021.
Employers are not required to treat each day off independently. When reporting leaves an employer can combine up to 20 days taken off each calendar year and report them as one leave. This is referred to as scattered days reporting and the cost to establish the credited service will be for the sum of the days off.
The cost will be equal to “double contributions” – in other words, if you choose to make the purchase, you will pay both your portion and your employer’s portion of the contributions to cover the strike period.
You have the following options for payment:
- a cheque – made payable to your employer;
- an RRSP transfer – directly from your financial institution to OMERS; or
- use your OMERS Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)
You may also use a combination of the above.
Please note: Payment can be made only after the strike has ended and you have received your election form from your employer.
When you elect to purchase the service, the deadline to pay is the end of the year following the year in which the leave ends. For example, if the leave period ends in 2019, you will have until December 31, 2020 to purchase the service at double contributions.
Purchasing a leave period
such as a legal strike will increase your pension benefit because it results in more credited service. It may also keep your best five consecutive years of earnings (“Best 5”) at a higher level. Your credited service and your Best 5 are both used to calculate your pension, so the higher your Best 5 and credited service are, the higher your pension.
Here are some examples of the cost of a service purchase for a one-month strike period.
|Regular Contributory Earnings
(before the leave)
|Regular member cost
|Strike Period cost
No. Any strike period that is not purchased will not be used to calculate your early retirement factors (30 years or 90 factor). Therefore, your decision to accept or to decline the service purchase opportunity may affect the earliest date that you can retire with an unreduced pension.
No, once you are approved for OMERS disability benefits, you continue to receive the disability benefits under the authority of the Plan.
Credited service in the OMERS Plan is currently capped at 35 years. If you have already reached 35 years of credited service, you will not have a leave period available to purchase. Your employer will report your contributory earnings to OMERS, but the report will not include earnings during the strike period nor the corresponding associated service.
You can call OMERS Member Services from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at +1 416.369.2444 or toll-free at +1 800.387.0813. You can also start a conversation once you sign in to myOMERS.