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For members of the Local Government Pension Scheme in England and Wales

If you are away from work

Your LGPS pension is based on your pay. If you are away from work and your pay is reduced, your pension may be affected.

Overview

You may need to take time away from work during your career. Special rules apply to protect your LGPS pension if you are on sick leave, child-related leave or reserve forces leave. You may be able to pay extra to make up for pension ‘lost’ during other types of unpaid absence. If you are paying extra in the LGPS, you might have to pay missed extra contributions when you return to work after an absence.

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Sick leave

If you are off work due to sickness or injury, your pay might go down or you may receive no pay. If this happens, a notional pay figure is used to work out your pension to make sure you do not lose out. This notional pay is called your Assumed Pensionable Pay. You can find out more about Assumed Pensionable Pay in the section below.

You will continue to pay your basic LGPS contributions on any pay that you receive while you are off sick. If you are on unpaid sick leave, you will not pay any contributions.

If you are in the 50/50 section of the Scheme and your pay is reduced to zero while you are on sick leave, you will automatically be moved into the main section of the Scheme from the beginning of the next pay period. You would start to build up full pension benefits in the LGPS even though you are not paying any pension contributions. This may not apply if you are on leave for a short period. If your pay re-starts before the next pay period begins, you would remain in the 50/50 section.

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Relevant child-related leave in the LGPS means:

  • ordinary maternity or adoption leave – normally the first 26 weeks
  • paid additional maternity or adoption leave – normally week 27 to week 39
  • paid shared parental leave
  • paternity leave, and
  • paid parental bereavement leave.

During a period of relevant child-related leave, your pension is usually worked out using your Assumed Pensionable Pay. Assumed Pensionable Pay is a notional figure that is used to make sure your pension is not affected by the pay reduction. You would continue to build up a pension in the LGPS as if you were working normally and receiving normal pay. You can find out more about Assumed Pensionable Pay in the section below.

If you are in the 50/50 section and you go on to no pay during ordinary maternity leave, ordinary adoption leave or paternity leave, you will automatically be moved to the main section of the Scheme from the beginning of the next pay period. You would start to build up full pension benefits in the LGPS even though you are not paying pension contributions.

Any period of unpaid additional maternity or adoption leave or unpaid shared parental leave will not count for pension purposes unless you pay extra pension contributions to buy the pension you have ‘lost’. Unpaid additional maternity or adoption leave is normally from week 40 to week 52, but could start earlier for some members.

The extra contributions are known as Additional Pension Contributions or APCs. If you elect to pay APCs to buy ‘lost’ pension within 30 days of returning to work, the cost will be split between you and employer. Your employer may give you longer to decide. Use the Buy lost pension calculator to find out more about this option. You will need some information from your employer about the amount of pay you have ‘lost’ in the unpaid period to use the calculator.

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Other types of leave

Authorised unpaid absence

Your employer may allow you to take a period of unpaid leave, including for jury service. This period will not count for pension purposes unless you elect to pay Additional Pension Contributions to buy the pension you ‘lost’ during the absence.

If you make an election pay Additional Pension Contributions to purchase ‘lost’ pension within 30 days of returning to work, the cost will be split between you and employer. Your employer can agree to contribute if you make your election after more than 30 days.

Use the Buy lost pension calculator to find out more about this option. You will need information from your employer about the pay you ‘lost’ in the unpaid absence to use the calculator.

Strike

If you are away from work for a day or more due to a trade dispute, the period will not count for pension purposes unless you elect to pay Additional Pension Contributions to purchase the ‘lost’ pension. The cost of purchasing the ‘lost’ pension would be met fully by you unless your employer voluntarily chooses to contribute.

Use the Buy lost pension calculator to find out more about this option. You will need information from your employer about the pay you ‘lost’ in the trade dispute to use the calculator.

Reserve forces leave

If you are on reserve forces leave and elect to remain in the LGPS, your pension will be worked out using your Assumed Pensionable Pay. This ensures that you continue to build up pension as if you were at work receiving your normal pay. You can find out more about Assumed Pensionable Pay in the section below.

Your employer needs to tell you the amount of basic pension contributions you and the Ministry of Defence must pay, any additional contributions you are paying and the amount of Assumed Pensionable Pay those contributions must be collected on. You should pass the information to the Ministry of Defence who will then deduct the pension contributions and pay them to your LGPS pension fund.

Pension contributions will not be deducted from any pay you receive from your LGPS employer during this period.

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Assumed Pensionable Pay

Assumed Pensionable Pay is a notional pensionable pay figure that is used to ensure that your pension is not affected if your pensionable pay reduces when you are away from work. It protects you if you are absent because of sickness or injury, relevant child-related leave or reserve forces leave.

Your employer must calculate the Assumed Pensionable Pay for the period of absence. To do this, your employer will normally calculate the average of the pensionable pay you received in the three months before your pay reduced. If you are paid weekly, they will use your pay in the 12 weeks before the pay reduction.

When calculating the average pensionable pay for the period before the pay reduction, your employer will ignore any reduction in pay due to an authorised absence or a trade dispute.

If the pay you received in the period before the pay reduction is materially lower than the pay you would normally receive, your employer has a discretion to use a higher pay to work out your Assumed Pensionable Pay. Your employer must have regard to your pensionable pay in the last year when determining what your ‘normal’ level of pensionable pay is.

Your basic pension contributions are based on the pay you actually receive, not on the Assumed Pensionable Pay.

Assumed Pensionable Pay – an example

A member’s pensionable pay is reduced to half pay for the period 1 July to 31 December due to sickness absence. The employer calculates the Assumed Pensionable Pay by working out the average of the pensionable pay in the three months before the pay reduction.

  • April pensionable pay: £1,190
  • May pensionable pay: £1,190
  • June pensionable pay: £1,322

Monthly Assumed Pensionable Pay is: £1,190 + £1,190 + £1,322 = £3,702 ÷ 3 = £1,324.

The employer would inform the member’s pension fund that the Assumed Pensionable Pay for the period 1 July to 31 December is £1,324 × 6 months = £7,404.

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Away from work and paying extra

If you are paying extra in the LGPS, different rules apply when you are absent depending on the type of additional contributions you are paying and the reason for your absence. In some cases you will need to pay the additional contributions when you return to work.

Sickness or injury

  • Additional Pension Contributions (APCs), Shared Cost APCs, added years and Added Regular Contributions (ARCs): You must continue to pay these contributions in any period of sickness or injury when you are being paid. You do not have to pay them in a period of unpaid sick leave. Your contributions would be deemed to have been paid in full.
  • Part time buy-back: If you are paying extra to buy back previous part time service, you must continue to pay the extra pension contributions set out in the contract as if you were not on leave.
  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) or Shared Cost AVCs: These contributions may continue. You can choose to vary the amount you are paying. If you are paying AVCs for extra life cover, you should arrange to continue with these payments throughout your leave or your cover may stop. This is very important during a period of unpaid sick leave because it will not be possible to deduct the contributions from your pay.
  • Cohabiting partner’s pension: if you are paying extra for pre 6 April 1988 membership to count, you must continue to pay these contributions in any period of sickness or injury when you are being paid. You do not have to pay them in a period of unpaid sick leave. Your contributions would be deemed to have been paid in full.

Child related leave, authorised unpaid leave or strike

  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) or Shared Cost AVCs: These contributions may continue. You can choose to vary the amount you are paying. If you are paying AVCs for extra life cover, you should arrange to continue with these payments throughout your leave or your cover may stop. This is very important during a period of unpaid leave because it will not be possible to deduct the contributions from your pay.
  • All other types of extra contributions: You must continue to pay the contributions you are contracted to pay as if you were not away from work. This includes Additional Pension Contributions (APCs), Shared Cost APCs, added years, Additional Regular Contributions (ARCs), Part time buy-back and paying extra for pre 6 April 1988 cohabiting partner’s pension. Your employer may need to deduct any unpaid contributions from your pay when you return to work.

Reserve forces leave

  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) or Shared Cost AVCs: These contributions may continue. You can choose to vary the amount you are paying. If you are paying AVCs for extra life cover, you should arrange to continue with these payments throughout your leave or your cover may stop.
  • Additional Pension Contributions (APCs), Shared Cost APCs, or Part time buy-back: You must continue to pay the extra contributions set out in the contract as if you were not away from work.
  • Added years, Additional Regular Contributions (ARCs) and paying extra for pre 6 April 1988 cohabiting partner’s pension: If your reserve forces pay is equal to or higher than your normal pay, you must pay the extra contributions as if you were not on leave. If your reserve forces pay is less than your normal pay, you do not have to pay the extra contributions. They are deemed to have been paid in full.
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