19-3-504. Absence due to illness or injury. (1) Time, not to exceed 5 years, during which a member is absent from service because of injury or illness is considered membership service if, within 1 year after the end of the absence, the injury or illness is determined to have arisen out of and in the course of the member's employment. However, the member may not earn service credit for this period unless the member files with the board a written notice of the member's intent to purchase the time of absence and complies with subsection (2), in which case the absence is considered as time spent in service for both service credit and membership service.
(2) (a) A member absent because of an employment-related illness or injury entitling the member to workers' compensation payments may, upon the member's return to service or upon termination of employment if the member cannot return to service due to the illness or injury, contribute to the retirement system an amount equal to the contributions that would have been made by the member to the system during the absence. The amount of contributions owed will be based on the member's compensation at the commencement of the member's absence, plus regular interest accruing 1 year from the date after the member returns to service or terminates employment to the date the member contributes for the period of absence.
(b) Whenever a member elects to contribute under subsection (2)(a), the employer shall contribute employer contributions for the period of absence based on the salary as calculated in subsection (2)(a) and may pay interest on the employer's contribution calculated in the same manner as interest on the employee's contribution under subsection (2)(a). An employer electing to make an interest payment shall do so for all employees similarly situated. If the employer elects not to pay the interest costs, this amount must be paid by the employee.
(3) A member loses the right to contribute for:
(a) the entire absence under this section if all of the member's accumulated contributions are refunded pursuant to 19-2-602; or
(b) the period of time during which retirement benefits are received if the member retires during the absence.