If you have to take unpaid time off work for industrial action, authorised unpaid leave or additional child related leave, you won't pay any pension contributions and as a result you won't build up your pension at those times.

You can, however, choose to make up the pension that you lose by being on unpaid leave, and in many cases your employer will pay two-thirds of the cost if you apply to do this as soon as you return to work.

This is called an Additional Pension Contribution (APC) to buy 'lost' pension, and it's your choice whether you buy the pension you lost due to your absence.

How much it will cost

To find out how much it'll cost, you'll need to know how much pay you lost during your absence on unpaid leave. Your employer's payroll or HR department will be able to tell you this.

Once you know that figure you can go to the buy lost pension calculator on the national LGPS Member website. In most cases you can pay by instalments or a one-off lump sum payment via your salary.

If your absence has been authorised by your employer, they'll pay two thirds of the cost, but only if they receive your application within 30 days of when you return to work. This is called a Shared Cost APC.

If your absence is unauthorised (such as strike action), or you apply after the 30-day deadline. You are responsible for the full cost of buying your lost pension.

If you want to go ahead after producing a quote, you can print your application form directly from the calculator. Make sure that you read the terms and conditions and send your printed form to your employer.

Absences due to illness or injury

If you're absent from work due to illness or injury and have exhausted your sick pay entitlement, there's no need to worry. Your employer will still pay into your pension through assumed pensionable pay. This only applies for periods of unpaid leave when your absence is due to illness or injury and means that your pension still builds up as if you were at work.