Conditions for membership in a defined benefit pension plan

A pension plan may cover all of a company's workers or only some categories of workers.

Who can join a plan?

A worker is eligible for plan membership if he or she is in a category of employees covered by the employer's plan.

A worker can join the plan if, during the preceding year:

  • the employer paid him or her an annual income corresponding to at least 35% of the maximum pensionable earnings (MPE) under the Québec Pension Plan for the reference year

  • the worker worked for at least 700 hours for the employer

However, a plan can allow an eligible employee to join the plan at an earlier date.

A helpful example...

An employer offers a plan to his or her unionized employees. In 2017, a person is hired and becomes a member of the union. That person is therefore eligible for membership in the plan. If, in 2017, the employee receives earnings of at least 19 355 $ (35% of the MPE for 2017, that is, 35% of 55 300 $) from the employer, or works at least 700 hours for the employer, the employee will be able to become a member of the plan as of 1 January 2018. 

Can plan membership be compulsory?

The answer to that question depends on the plan:

  • If membership is compulsory and a worker is eligible for membership, he or she must join the plan as of 1 January of the calendar year following the year in which he or she met the conditions for membership.
  • If membership is optional and a worker is eligible for membership, he or she can apply for membership at any time during the calendar year that follows the year in which the membership conditions were met.

Information that must be sent to an eligible worker

Within 90 days following the date on which a worker becomes eligible for plan membership, the administrator must send him or her a summary of the plan, a brief description of a members' rights and obligations and a description of the main advantages of plan membership.

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