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Peace Officer and Firefighter Retirement

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Department Responsibilities

California Department of Human Resources (CalHR)

  • Determines eligibility for the POFF retirement benefits.
  • Provides departments, State Controllers’ Office (SCO), and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) with approved POFF classes and positions.
  • Reports eligible POFF positions to the Legislature on July 1 of each year.
  • Conducts periodic reviews of POFF positions to ensure the state complies with state and federal laws.

Employee's Department

  • Submits retirement designation requests to CalHR for approval.
  • Enters appropriate retirement code in the SCO system.
  • Ensures employees receive retirement information.

SCO

  • Processes retirement deductions for both employees and the employers.
  • Provides CalPERS with a report listing the monthly retirement deduction and retirement plan for all state employees.
  • Notifies CalHR when departments include classes or positions in PO/FF retirement without CalHR approval.

CalPERS

  • Maintains retirement information for state employees and provides benefit information.
  • Determines retirement benefits for PO/FF retirement members.
  • Audits member’s records to ensure account information is accurate.
  • Administers the Social Security Program for State of California.

PO/FF Retirement Benefits 

The major benefits of the PO/FF retirement membership include:

  1. Higher benefit formula (3% at age 50, 3% at age 55, 2.5% at age 55, 2.7% at age 57 or 2.5% at age 57).[1]
  2. Earlier retirement age compared to state employees subject to the miscellaneous membership.
  3. Enhanced death and disability benefits.
  4. Employees and employers are exempt from paying Social Security tax.

 
[1] The benefit formula for a state employee is based on the employee’s first hired date, CalPERS membership date, and bargaining unit. 

Authority and Criteria

CalHR’s Authority to Determine Eligibility for PO/FF Retirement Benefits

The authority for determining if a class or position meets PO/FF retirement membership is contained in CalPERS law under Government Code sections 20391, 20392, 20393, 20395, and 20398. CalHR determines which excluded, CEA, and exempt classes or positions meet PO/FF retirement criteria specified in Government Code section 20398.

It is the policy of CalHR to apply the standard specified in Government Code section 20398 to ensure PO/FF designation is only approved for employees in classes or positions that meet PO/FF criteria.

Criteria for Determining Eligibility for PO/FF Retirement Benefits

Rank and File Employees

CalPERS law, Government Code sections 20391, 20392, 20393, and 20395 outlines the criteria required for PO/FF membership as follows:

PO/FF membership includes full-time permanent employees represented by either Bargaining Unit 6 (Corrections), Bargaining Unit 7 (Protective Services and Public Safety), or Bargaining Unit 8 (Firefighters).

  • Peace officers must be employed in classifications that are designated as “peace officer” as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code.
  • Firefighters who have principal duties that consist of active firefighting/fire suppression.

Excluded, CEA, and Exempt Employees

CalPERS law, Government Code section 20398 outlines the criteria required for PO/FF membership for Excluded, CEA, and Exempt employees.

1) PO/FF membership includes state officers and employees (other than patrol officers) designed as “peace officers,” as defined in Penal Code sections 830.1, 830.2, 830.3, 830.38, 830.4, and 830.5. In addition, the majority (51 percent) of his or her duties consist of one of the following:

A) Responsibility for direct supervision [1]of state PO/FF personnel as specified in CalPERS law, Government Code section 20391, 20392, 20393, and 20395.
B) Conducting investigations or audit of investigatory practices and other audit of, or in, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
C) Administration [2]of programs of an agency, department, or other organizational unit that is primarily responsible for active law enforcement or active fire suppression.

2) Firefighters who have principal duties that consist of active firefighting/fire suppression.

[1]“Direct Supervision” means the actions of the employee designated as a PO/FF member in a position that is in the direct chain of command over state peace officers or firefighters.

[2]“Administration” means the actions of the employee designated as a PO/FF member in a position that is in the direct chain of command over an agency, department, or organizational unit in which the majority of employees are state PO/FF members.

Exclusions:

Employees in classes or positions shall not be granted PO/FF benefits if they have ongoing responsibilities for the any of the following: 

  • Personnel Administration
  • Budgeting
  • Public Affairs
  • Data Processing or Information Technology
  • Governmental Relations
  • Legal support
  • Administrative oversight of administrative staff

PO/FF Code Sections:

  • California Public Employees' Retirement Law
  • GC 20391 - lists eligible investigator classes
  • GC 20392 - lists more eligible classes
  • GC 20395 - defines other criteria for eligibility
  • GC 20398 - outlines criteria for Excluded, CEA, Exempt, Management, and Supervisory employees
  • Chapter 4.5, Section 830 of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code - defines peace officer
  • Penal Code Section 13540 - requires POST feasibility study
  • Penal Code Section 13541(a) and (b) - describes POST feasibility study 

Requesting a new class PO/FF class or position

POST study

When you request a new peace officer class or change to the penal code, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) conducts a feasibility study to review: 

  • Proposed changes in the duties and responsibilities of people in the affected class
  • their field law enforcement duties and responsibilities
  • supervisory and management structure
  • training methods
  • funding
  • the extent to which the job requires more peace officer powers and authority

POST may charge you for the cost of the study. Also, POST will recommend to the legislature whether to add a new peace officer class. 

CalHR PO/FF Designation Procedure

Departments, Unions, and CalHR Labor Relations staff must submit a PO/FF designation request to CalHR as follows:

1. Review the PO/FF membership criteria to determine if the class or position meets the requirements.
2. If the class meets the PO/FF criteria, complete the “Retirement Designation Request” form and attach the supporting documents listed on the form as one package.
3. You have the option to submit the package as follows:  

Scan and email package to:  RetirementRequests@calhr.ca.gov

Mail/interagency/deliver to:  

CalHR, Personnel Management Division

1515 S Street, North Building, Suite 500

Sacramento, CA 95811 

4. Denial: If the class or position doesn’t meet PO/FF criteria, CalHR will send a written denial notice to the department.
5. Approval: If CalHR staff determines the class or position meets the PO/FF criteria, CalHR will send a written notice to the department, SCO, and CalPERS to designate the class as PO/FF. CalPERS then designates the class and moves the employees into the PO/FF retirement category. CalPERS notifies SCO to establish the class(es) as PO/FF retirement in the transaction audit tables and sends a confirmation to the department’s personnel officer and the CalHR. The department may then key in the class transactions without generating errors from SCO and CalPERS databases.
6. CalPERS sends an election letter to each employee giving them a one-time option to retain their current formula or switch to the safety formula. All future employees that are hired into the class will then be automatically placed into the PO/FF retirement formula.

Note:  Departments are not authorized to provide PO/FF designation for a class or position without CalHR approval.

PO/FF Enrollment Review

CalHR conducts periodic reviews of the PO/FF retirement plan in order to: 

  1. Determine the number of classes and individuals placed in the PO/FF retirement plan.
  2. Identify any incorrect enrollments to ensure impacted employees are not disadvantaged at retirement.  

Reports to the Legislature

As required by CalPERS laws, CalHR will continue to provide the Legislature with an annual report of newly approved POFF classes and positions. The report is provided on July 1 of each year.

Contact

Desi Rodrigues, desi.rodrigues@calhr.ca.gov, 916-324-9400

 
  Updated: 5/26/2016
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