KFActs FAQ: About Retirement

By Betty Cunnin, Member-at-Large

At some point, you might decide you’d like to retire from KPU. Retirement is a time of transition that encompasses many career, financial, health, and life decisions. This KFActs FAQ will provide information to help you plan for that special last day. We will also discuss how your age and employment at other BC Universities and Colleges might impact your plans.

You can learn more about retirement and your pension from the College Pension Plan (CPP) and the annual retirement planning workshops offered by the Association of BC College Pension Plan Retirees through the KFA. The KPU Retirees Association also provides helpful retirement resources and occasional workshops.

When can I retire?

In British Columbia, there is no mandatory age of retirement. While you are not eligible to receive your retirement pension until you are at least 55 years old, you can choose to work as long as you can and retire whenever you think it is best for you.

Faculty members who choose to work past the age of 65 face a reduction in some benefits, including but not limited to no access to long-term disability after age 65, and no access to short-term disability benefits after age 70. Furthermore, there are no additional personal or employer CPP contributions to your pension beginning November 30 in the year you turn 71. 

I am ready to retire! Who do I need to tell…and when?

Before retiring and applying for your pension, you must arrange your last day of work, called your effective retirement date, with the Employer to ensure the CPP has the correct information to pay your pension accurately and on time. In addition to reaching out to your KPU Health and Benefits specialist with this information, you may also decide that you would like to communicate your intention to retire, at any time, to your Dean or your chair/colleagues in support of departmental planning.  

If you have accrued and banked vacation over the past few years, please keep in mind that Article 5.02 states that if a faculty member provides anything less than two months’ notice for terminating their employment, the Employer is not obligated to pay out vacation beyond the bare minimum required by the Employment Standards Act. This minimum is much lower than our vacation entitlements in the Collective Agreement.

The CPP states that the earliest you can apply for your pension is 90 days before the beginning of the month you want to begin receiving your pension, and no later than 30 days before your pension effective date.  For most people, the effective date for their pension is the first day following their effective retirement date.

If you apply for your pension with less than 30 days’ notice, there may be gaps in receiving pension payments while you wait for your pension to become effective. For example, if you are thinking of retiring August 31st, making September 1st your effective pension date, the CPP suggests you apply on or after June 3. Your first pension payment will be September 30th, and then the last day of each month going forward.

In order to avoid any delays in receiving your pension benefits, make sure to complete any required paperwork on time.

How much will my retirement income be?

All regular and non-regular faculty who work at KPU at least 50% in one year are mandatorily enrolled into the CPP.  The CPP mails you a statement every year which includes an estimate of your pension at yearly milestones.  You can also perform calculations to estimate the pension you will receive based on assumed retirement dates by accessing your personal online CPP account. At present, the CPP uses the average of the five years of your highest salary to determine your pension. The CPP also provides every enrolled employee an annual statement showing the estimated value of your pension.

BC’s CPP is a defined benefit pension plan. In a defined benefit pension plan, your pension is based on a formula that uses your years of service and your highest average salary, not based on your overall contributions. Every pay period, a portion of your pay goes to the pension plan. Your employer also contributes at the same time.

The following contribution rates have been in effect since April 1, 2019:

  • You contribute 10.24% of your salary
  • Your employer contributes 10.34% of your salary

Basically, the more years of service you accumulate in FTE, and move up the salary steps, the greater your pension. If you retire early, before age 65, your age at retirement and years of contributory service, called the 85 factor, will determine if you are eligible for an unreduced pension.

If you have worked part-time or taken some types of leaves, your service may be reduced. See the CPP regarding options for purchasing this reduced service. It is important to know that when you are ready to retire, and you want to draw income from your pension, you will need to apply for your pension: you will not receive it automatically when you stop working.

What happens to my benefits?

Your KPU employee health care coverage will end one month past your retirement date. You can apply for extended health care and dental coverage through a number of private providers including the CPP, KPU Retirees Association, and Manulife. Each provider has pros and cons in terms of coverage and costs, so be sure to research all of your options in advance of your current benefits expiring. If electing to pay for Manulife’s coverage, be sure to let them know you were a KPU faculty employee.

What if I work at more than one Post-Secondary Institution (PSI) that is enrolled in the CPP?

If you are employed at another post-secondary institution in BC that is also a member of the CPP, and you are entitled to receive retirement benefits at that other workplace, to be eligible to draw on your KPU pension, you must sever your employment relationship for the purpose of retirement at both institutions. Alternatively, if you retire from KPU and choose to defer your pension to a later date, you can continue your active employment at the other institution and contribute to your pension up until November 30 of the year you turn 71.

Can I work at KPU after I retire?

Absolutely! But there are some limitations regarding timing. When applying for your pension, you and the Employer will be required to sign a declaration stating no pre-arranged agreement exists for you to work for KPU after retirement.

In other words, you need to completely sever your employment relationship with KPU for the purpose of retirement in order to be eligible to receive a pension from the CPP.

Article 21 states that you must ask to be placed on the departmental qualified faculty list in order to be offered future NR1 contracts, and many retired faculty return to teach via NR1 contracts. You must do this each year to be considered qualified and to maintain access to your KPU email. Let your Dean, AD, or Divisional Business Manager know that you want to be added to the QFL when you tell them you plan to retire.

What happens to my email address when I retire?

If you want to maintain access to your KPU email address after you retire, let your Dean, AD, or Divisional Business Manager know that you want to be added to the qualified faculty list (QFL) as per Article 21 in the Collective Agreement.

Help! My email address was deleted even though I asked be kept on the QFL!

This happens sometimes when there is a delay in processing some of the paperwork and/or if you let your Dean’s Office know you want to remain on the QFL but don’t provide a lot advanced notice. Don’t worry—your email is not deleted. That being said, let your Dean, AD, or Divisional Business Manager know right away that your email address is not accessible. They should be able to get it up and running again.

What happens to my ID card and office keys when I retire?

This is a bit of grey area at the moment. Some people are asked to return their ID cards right away and some people are not. If you know you plan to return as an NR1 instructor, feel free to ask your Dean’s Office if you can keep your ID card to make your next teaching semester easier. If you are asked to return your ID card and your keys, they should be returned as quickly as possible as these are considered property of KPU. You will need to get your ID card and keys reissued to you if/when you return as an NR1 instructor. Please note that you may be given a desk at a Hotel Office and not the office you had as a regular instructor.

Can I still access the Library when I retire?

Yes, retired faculty may request a special library card that allows access to many resources. Please visit the Library’s website for more details about the Lifetime Borrower Card for Retired Employees.

Am I still a KFA member when I retire?

You are eligible to become a retired member of the Kwantlen Faculty Association (KFA), and the KFA will pay your first year’s dues to your choice of a KPU Retirees Association Membership, membership in the Association of British Columbia CPP Retirees, or membership in BC Forum. Please contact the KFA directly for more information.

Am I eligible for the Early Retirement Incentive mentioned in Article 22.01?

According to this Article, anyone can apply for an early retirement incentive; however, in practice, this incentive has been offered only once (according to the KFA’s historical memory). Sometimes other retirement incentives may be offered under Article 7.10 (d) (v). These are offered to help mitigate layoffs and a general notice will be sent out to your Department or Faculty. It is up to you to indicate your interest in any retirement incentive offered by the university, so be mindful of any deadlines.

Can I draw my pension and work at KPU at the same time?

Yes and no. As explained above, you must sever your employment relationship with KPU for the purpose of retirement in order to receive your pension payments. If you do happen to return as NR1 faculty after retirement, you remain entitled to draw your pension.

If you don’t retire, you should begin to draw your pension as a regular instructor once you turn 71. The College Pension Plan will contact you in the year you turn 71 to let you know. They will encourage you to complete the paperwork required to draw your pension and thus be paid your monthly pension amount. If you do not fill out this paperwork, you will not draw your pension until the paperwork is completed. In order to avoid missing out on your pension benefits, make sure to complete any required paperwork on time.

Can I retire in the middle of my work year or appointment year?

Technically you could retire in the middle of your work or appointment year, but the KFA does not usually recommend this. Depending on the time of the year, KPU may issue you an overpayment for not fulfilling the requirements of your annualized salary. In another scenario, you may be shorted vacation and PD entitlements. It is always preferable to retire at the end of your work/appointment year. You can use your PD and/or accountable time during your non-teaching semester to wrap up any outstanding committee work and clean out your office. If you are unsure if your teaching rotation aligns with your work/appointment year, contact your Dean’s Office or HR and ask them to clarify this for you

I don’t know when my work year or appointment year begins. Will that affect my retirement?

Yes, this could very well affect your retirement. If you are unsure about your work year or appointment year, please contact your Dean’s Office or HR and ask them to clarify this for you. Your teaching rotation may not align with your work/appointment year, especially if you have been teaching at KPU for many years or if your Dean asked you to switch your non-teaching semester. You don’t want to be in a situation where you retire without having earned your vacation or PD nor do you want to be in a situation where you retire without having taken any vacation time or PD time owed to you.

I still have questions and concerns. Who can I talk to?

You can always ask the KFA any questions. Feel free to reach out. You can also always ask the HR Health and Benefits specialist for your area any questions, but we recommend cross-referencing any details with the KFA. In the same way, feel free to reach out to the CPP to ask them questions. The KPU Retirees Association is another fantastic resource as the members have already gone through the same process.

Congratulations if you are retiring! Keep in touch!