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State Safety Retirement

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Responsibilities

 California Department of Human Resources (CalHR)

  • Determines eligibility for state safety retirement benefits.
  • Provides employees' department, State Controller’s Office (SCO) and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) with notice of approved state safety classes and positions.
  • Provides the Legislature with an annual report listing newly approved state safety classes and positions.
  • Conducts periodic reviews of state safety classes and positions to ensure the state is in compliance with state and federal laws.

Employee's Department

  • Submits retirement determination requests to CalHR for approval.
  • Enters appropriate retirement code into 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 state safety retirement without CalHR approval.

CalPERS

  • Maintains retirement information for state employees and provides retirement benefit information to members and departments.
  • Determines retirement benefits for the state safety retirement members.
  • Audits member's records to ensure account information is accurate.
  • Administers the Social Security program for the State of California.

STATE SAFETY BENEFITS 

  • Enhanced retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.
  • 2.5% at age 55, 2% at age 55, or 2 at age 57 retirement formula.[1]
  • Excluded from Social Security taxes. However, if employee was hired on or after April 1, 1986, employees must pay Medicare tax, which is 1.45 percent of taxable gross earnings. 

[1] Benefit is based on employees first hire date and CalPERS membership date.

AUTHORITY AND CRITERIA

The authority for determining if a class or position is eligible for the state safety retirement category is contained in CalHR law Government Code sections 19816.20 and 19816.21 and in CalPERS law, Government Code sections 20405 and 20405.1. CalPERS law also lists various classes specifically granted state safety retirement as specified in Government Code sections 20399-20416.


Criteria for Determining Eligibility for State Safety Benefits

Criteria:  

In order to be eligible for state safety benefits, an employee in the class or position under consideration must meet all of the following criteria:


 

1. The employee must have ongoing responsibility for:


        a. The protection and safeguarding of public and property; and
        b. The control or supervision of incarcerated individuals, or regular and substantial contact with incarcerated individuals;

 

2. The employee must, as a condition of employment, be required to and capable of responding to emergency situations;


3. The employee must provide a level of service to the public such that the safety of the public and of property is not jeopardized;


4. The employee’s job specification and signed duty statement must clearly outline the requirement that the employee has ongoing responsibility for the items listed in item #1, above;

 
5. The employee’s job duties must be such that earlier retirement age is necessary to ensure the employee is capable of performing protective duties;


6. The class or position is consistent with classes that have previously been determined by CalHR to meet the criteria outlined in this guide.

Definitions: 

The following definitions apply to the above criteria:

  •  “Ongoing Responsibility” means the employee spends more than 50 percent of his or her time performing the activity.
  • “Regular and Substantial” means the employee has direct, personal contact with incarcerated individuals.
  • “Control or supervision” means immediate or first-line supervision and does not include activities in which the employee is a second-line supervisor or supervising or controlling other employees who are in personal contact with incarcerated individuals.
  • “Incarcerated individual” means: (i) Inmates or youthful offenders in adult or youth correctional facilities; (ii) Patients in state mental facilities that house Penal Code offenders; or (iii) Clients charged with a felony who are in a locked and controlled treatment facility of a developmental center.

Exclusions:  

Employees in classes or positions shall not be granted state safety 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.
  • Primary work location is at headquarters or field offices.
  • Meeting with administrative or executive staff located at facilities or state hospitals (e.g., wardens, superintendents, and other administrative staff).  

Other State Safety Laws

 California Department of Human Resources Laws:

  • G.C. 19816.20 – outlines state safety criteria.
  • G.C. 19816.21 – provides state safety retirement for certain Bargaining Unit 7 classes. The list of Bargaining Unit 7 classes and policy related to excluded classes is provided in CalHR policy memo 2004-029.

 California Public Employees' Retirement Laws: 

  • G.C. 20399-Department of Fish and Wildlife classes.
  • G.C. 20400-Department of Forestry and Fire Protection classes.
  • G.C. 20401-Department of Justice classes.
  • G.C. 20401.5-Department of Justice and Office of the Public Defender classes.
  • G.C. 20403-California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation classes.
  • G.C. 20405-Correctional Facility classes.
  • G.C. 20405.1-Collective Bargaining Agreements.
  • G.C. 20405.2-Election to remain under miscellaneous or industrial membership.
  • G.C. 20405.3-Alternate election of state safety for Correctional facility classes.
  • G.C. 20406-Lifeguard services.
  • G.C. 20407-Health Personnel at Forensic Facilities.
  • G.C. 20407.5-Alternate election of Safety for Health Personnel at Forensic Facilities.
  • G.C. 20408-Personnel at Correctional or Forensic Facilities.
  • G.C. 20409-Various classes at various departments.
  • G.C. 20410-Investigators at various departments.
  • G.C. 20411-Vocational Instructors at Correctional Facilities.
  • G.C. 20412-Firefighters.
  • G.C. 20413-Campus firefighters who performed duties with the state and local agency.
  • G.C. 20414-State Park Rangers or Firefighter Guards.
  • G.C. 20415-State Park Managers.
  • G.C. 20416-Peace officers/Firefighters are excluded from state safety.

Requesting a state safety class or position designation

Departments, Unions, and CalHR Labor Relations staff must submit a state safety designation request to CalHR by:

1. Reviewing the state safety membership criteria to determine if the class or position meets the requirements.

 
2. If the class meets the state safety 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 state safety criteria, CalHR will send a written denial notice to the department.

 
5. Approval: If CalHR staff determines the class or position meets the state safety criteria, CalHR will send a written notice to the department, SCO, and CalPERS to designate the class as state safety.

 
6. CalPERS then designates the class and moves the employees into the state safety retirement category. CalPERS notifies SCO to establish the class(es) as safety retirement in the transaction audit tables and sends a confirmation to the department’s personnel officer and CalHR. The department may then key in the class transactions without generating errors from SCO and CalPERS databases.


7. CalPERS sends an election letter to each employee giving them a one-time option to retain their current retirement formula or switch to the safety formula. All future employees that are hired into the class will then be automatically placed into the state safety retirement formula.


Note: Departments are not authorized to provide state safety designation for a class or position without CalHR approval.

 

State safety Audit

CalHR conducts periodic reviews of the state safety retirement plan in order to:

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

 

Contact

 Desi Rodrigues, CalHR Benefits Division, Desi.Rodrigues@calhr.ca.gov, 916-324-9400 

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