Before December 31, 1975

Special rules apply for breaks in service before January 1, 1976. For more information, please contact the Fund Office.

On or After January 1, 1976

On January 1, 1976, the federal law known as ERISA introduced one-year breaks and permanent breaks. One-year breaks are considered temporary and can be repaired.

One-Year Break in Service

After 1975 and before 1990, a one-year break in service occurs in any Calendar Year in which you did not earn at least 1/4 of a Pension Credit or have at least 435 hours of work in Covered Employment or continuous non-covered employment.
Beginning in 1990, a one-year break in service occurs in any Calendar Year in which you did not earn 1/12 of a Pension Credit or have at least 435 hours of work in Covered Employment.
One-year breaks in service can be repaired if you return to work and earn at least one year of Vesting Service before having a permanent break. This means you must work at least 870 hours in Covered
Employment and/or continuous non-covered employment. Once a one-year break in service is repaired, your participation in the Plan, Pension Credits and Vesting Service will be restored. When your service is restored, the one-year break is not counted toward a permanent break.

Permanent Break in Service after 1975

Please note: You cannot repair a permanent break in service if it occurs on or after January 1, 1976.

Unless you have already met the requirements for a pension, if you have a one-year break in service and do not return to work, the number of your consecutive one-year breaks will be added together and may be considered a permanent break as follows:

After 1975 but before January 1, 1987, a permanent break occurs when the number of your consecutive one-year breaks equals or exceeds the number of your years of Vesting Service or full Pension Credits earned during the Contribution Period (whichever is greater). For example:

Year Hours of Work Pension Credit Years of Vesting Service One-Year Breaks in Service
1 1,500 1 1 0
2 1,000 1 1 0
3 90 0 0 1
4 0 0 0 1
Total - 2 2 2

 

This Employee had two years of Vesting Service, two Pension Credits, and two one-year breaks. Because his consecutive one-year breaks equaled his years of Vesting Service (or Pension Credits), a
permanent break occurs, canceling all Pension Credit and Vesting Service previously earned.

After December 31, 1986, a permanent break in service occurs only after your consecutive one-year breaks equal five or more. For example

Year Hours of Work Pension Credit Years of Vesting Service One-Year Breaks in Service
1 1,700 1 1 0
2 1,800 1 1 0
3 1,600 1 1 0
4 50 0 0 1
5 85 0 0 1
6 90 0 0 1
7 80 0 0 1
8 40 0 0 1
Total - 3 3 5

 

This Employee has three years of Vesting Service, three Pension Credits, and five consecutive one-year breaks. A permanent break in service occurs at the end of Year 8 after five consecutive one-year breaks in service, canceling all of his Pension Credits and Vesting Service earned under the Plan.

If this Employee had returned to employment in Year 8 and completed at least 870 hours of work, his work record would look like this:

Year Hours of Work Pension Credit Years of Vesting Service One-Year Breaks in Service
1 1,700 1 1 0
2 1,800 1 1 0
3 1,600 1 1 0
4 50 0 0 1
5 85 0 0 1
6 90 0 0 1
7 80 0 0 1
8 870 8/12 1 0
Total - 3-8/12 4 4

 

In this example, the Employee reinstated his participation, Pension Credits and Vesting Service by returning to employment and receiving credit for 870 hours in Year 8. Because the number of his consecutive one-year breaks was less than five, he was able to repair his one-year breaks and restore his Pension Credits and years of Vesting Service.

IMPORTANT: One-year breaks will not be added together unless they occur consecutively without interruption by a Calendar Year in which you are credited with at least one minimum unit of Pension Credit (1/4 of a Pension Credit before January 1, 1990 and 1/12 of a Pension Credit on or after
January 1, 1990) or 435 hours of work.

Exceptions to Break in Service Rules

Certain periods of time will not be counted when determining breaks in service. This time will be considered an exception if your failure to earn Vesting Service or Pension Credit was caused by the following: 

  • A period of total Disability (as defined on page 12) up to a maximum of 12 consecutive calendar quarters. You must notify the Trustees in writing of your disability (for periods of time on and after January 1, 1954, the Trustees will not recognize a disability beyond nine months before notification, or 18 months if they find extenuating circumstances). The Trustees may require you to submit to an examination by a competent physician (or physicians) selected by the Trustees. In addition, you may be required to agree to being re-examined to assess your physical or mental condition, no more than semi-annually or as required by the Trustees. 

  • Lack of sufficient work in Covered Employment if you have remained available for Covered Employment but none was available, for up to four consecutive calendar quarters. Continued membership in good standing with the Union will be used to prove the participant was available for work. (This grace period no longer applies on or after January 1, 1987).

  • Full-time employment as an elected officer or elected employee with the International Association or Union, or as Joint Apprenticeship Committee Coordinator for Apprentices (or as a full-time teacher) or as Representative of the Energy Management Institute of Illinois.

  • Employment as a Sheet Metal Worker for up to three years with any of the following: City of Chicago, County of Cook, County of Cook Forest Preserve, Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District, Chicago Board of Education or Chicago Park District or a governmental agency within the jurisdiction of the Union that is not a contributing Employer to the Pension Fund. 

  • Absence from work because of pregnancy, childbirth, adoption or infant care. Up to a maximum of 501 hours will be provided to you in the year the absence starts or, if not required in that year to prevent a break, in the following year. 

  • Absence from work, up to 12 weeks, that qualifies under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).