This depends on the type of break it is. There are two main types, paid and unpaid.
What sort of break is paid?
These are usually your annual leave, and some paid ‘special leave’. This also includes some periods of time off work when you are sick. This can be either at full pay, or a reduced level. Your employer will be able to tell you more about what types of absence are paid.
How do these paid absences affect my pension?
Having paid time off work does not have any effect on your pension. Because you are still earning, you will still build up your alpha pension in the usual way.
What sort of break is unpaid?
This can be a career break, a day where you strike as part of a Union, or periods of sickness where you cannot get any pay (because you have been off for an extended period of time).
How do these unpaid absences affect my pension?
Having unpaid time off work does have an effect on your pension. Because you are not earning, you will not build up any alpha pension.
I am getting sick pay at pension rate (SPPR); do I build up any alpha pension?
If you are receiving SPPR even though you are being paid, you will not build up any alpha pension. Your employer decides if you should receive SPPR instead of being on an unpaid absence.
What if I am off work for an extended period of time, what happens to my pension?
If you are on an extended break you are still an active member. Although you might not add any pension based on your earnings (if you are not getting paid) it is still eligible for the annual adjustments applied to active members’ pensions.
How does my pension build up while I am getting sick pay?
You can usually only pay contributions and build up pension in alpha if you are actually working or if you are on paid leave. If you are on unpaid leave, you will generally not receive pensionable earnings for that period.
If you are on paid sick leave, you will build up alpha pension as usual. If your pay reduces to half rate, you will still build up pension as if your actual pensionable earnings were at the full rate.
However, if you are getting sick pay at pension rate this does not count as pensionable earnings.
What if I work somewhere else?
If you are on loan or secondment to another employer, they will work together to agree the terms before this period of loan starts. These terms will determine how you will continue to pay your alpha contributions.