Update on possible errors in your pension contributions

Dear members,

YUFA was first alerted, in January 2012, to extensive, long-standing problems in the administration of the York Pension Plan. These problems involve the use by Pension & Benefits of procedures explicitly violating the terms of the York Pension Plan document (YPPD) and led to improper reductions in the pension account balances of affected active members and the pensions paid to affected retirees. The University’s lawyers confirmed the YPPD-violating nature of the procedures in question in February 2012. Since that time, YUFA has been attempting to get the Employer to act to correct past pension account and pension errors, and stop the continued use of these YPPD-violating procedures.

Owing to a lack of any substantive progress, YUFA has been forced to file a policy grievance over these matters.

This communication is a follow-up to an earlier announcement about these same issues. Its goal is to alert members who may have missed the first announcement about the existence of these problems. Links are also provided to online resources aimed at helping members understand whether their pension accounts or pensions are likely to be among those affected. Notifying YUFA if it appears you have been affected will help YUFA to push the policy grievance forward, and (eventually) to get past errors corrected.

The errors in question result from the use of YPPD-violating procedures for determining pensionable income (relevant to determining minimum guaranteed pension entitlements) and employee and/or employer contributions to the pension accounts of members in specific sabbatical or irrevocable reduced load (IRL) situations.

“One member who retired in 2009 is currently receiving a pension $842 per year lower than it should be and is owed more than $6,100 in back pension.”

The impact of these errors can be quite large. One member who retired in 2009, for example, is currently receiving a pension $842 per year lower than it should be and is owed more than $6,100 in back pension. A number of other examples are already known of current retirees owed more than $1,000 in back pension. The impact can also be smaller, and not all members are affected. It is, however, likely that well in excess of 500 members will have had their accounts and/or pensions negatively affected (see below for more on this point).

A brief outline of all problems we are currently aware of follows. Links providing access to form-fillable PDF worksheets designed to help you determine which (if any) of these errors is likely to have affected your pension account may be found below.

The problems go back to at least 2000 and affect the pension accounts of members who received retroactive payments and/or merit award payments in certain irrevocable reduced load (IRL) or reduced-pay, “topped-up sabbatical” situations. (A “topped-up sabbatical” is one during which the member opted to top up employee and employer pension contributions to 100%.) Your pension account balance will definitely be lower than it should be, and your minimum guaranteed pension entitlement may also be lower than it should be, if any of the following applies to you:

  • (a) you received a merit award payment while on any reduced-pay, topped-up sabbatical (this problem ended with the termination of the merit award program, with the last of these errors thus occurring in December 2012);
  • (b) you received a retroactive payment of any kind (due to an anomaly adjustment, a marketability adjustment, or the late signing of a new collective agreement) while on any reduced-pay, topped-up sabbatical, through to at least the end of 2015;
  • (c) you received a retroactive payment of any kind in the year immediately following any reduced-pay, topped-up sabbatical (this problem continued through at least 2016);
  • (d) you received a retroactive payment of any kind while on IRL through at least the end of 2015 (this error also occurred in all of the relatively small number of 2016 and 2017 examples of this type we are aware of, and thus is likely still ongoing).

Further details, including some historical information, and additional numerical examples of how large the impact on members’ pensions can be, can be found at this link.

To find out if your pension has been negatively affected by these errors, please visit this webpage. It contains links to worksheets covering all of the situations noted above. Simply provide the required information in the worksheets.

No calculations are required to fill out these worksheets — the information you provide will be enough for us to determine whether or not your account was among those affected. If it was, filling out and returning the appropriate worksheets will help us ensure that past errors in your pension account and/or current pension will be properly identified and (eventually) corrected.

It is worth bearing in mind, in this regard, that, from the cases of a number of recent retirees who responded to the first version of this mailing, we know that, as recently as July 2017, members were still entering retirement on pensions improperly reduced as a result of uncorrected versions of these past errors.

“It is likely that well in excess of 500 YUFA members will have had their accounts and/or pensions negatively affected by these unreported errors.”

It is also worth emphasizing the scale of the problem. From a list of members on reduced-pay, topped-up sabbaticals in the period 2000-2007, for example, we have been able to identify 325 members whose accounts were, with certainty, in this period, negatively impacted by errors of type (a), (b) and/or (c) above. Based on the numbers of members known to have been on reduced-pay, topped-up sabbaticals in each of the years in the period 2008-2015, we also know that an additional 301 errors of type (b) and/or (c) will have been made in this later period, and, based on the number of merit award recipients affected each year in the period 2000-2007, we expect a further roughly 60 errors of type (a) to have been made in the period 2008-2012. Finally, a further roughly 130 unusually large errors of type (b) are expected to have affected those on reduced-pay, topped-up sabbaticals in 1998-1999 or 1999-2000 (these errors result from the improper treatment of the often very large salary adjustment fund retroactive payments and late 1999-2001 Collective Agreement retroactive payments received by members in 1999 and/or early 2000).

Please forward this email to any currently retired former colleagues who may not otherwise have access to it.

For more information, please email yufa@yorku.ca (subject line: pension errors).