The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Board has directed that staff share with existing municipal members guidance on who is required to be enrolled in a PMRS "municipal" pension plan. Further, because of a concern that municipalities may not be properly enrolling all employees who are entitled to be covered under the pension, the Board has required that new certification language appear on the PMRB-21 (Quarterly Report of Contributions) prepared for municipal plans. Municipal plans are sometimes referred to as "non-uniform" plans and are those plans created for NON-policemen and NON-firefighters.
The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Law states that all municipal employees "employed on a permanent basis" must be enrolled in the PMRS administered pension plan. The System's interpretation is that any individual hired with the expectation of being in an active, regularly scheduled paid position for more than one year is required to be considered employed on a permanent basis, regardless of whether the employment is part-time or full-time. The actual number of hours worked per week is not a consideration in the determination of permanent employment. The Law allows municipalities to establish a probationary period of up to one year during which time enrollment in the plan can be withheld. The probationary period must be uniformly applied to all employees eligible for enrollment in the pension plan.
Historically, the System receives several inquiries a year from permanent, part-time municipal employees who feel they are entitled to pension coverage. Upon investigation of the facts and reviewing the requirements of the law with the municipal officials and the affected employee, the pension status of the employee has been routinely resolved. During the past year however, the System has been asked to address the status of several part-time, permanent employees where the municipal officials and the affected employee cannot agree to resolve the pension status. The PMRS has been forced to become involved in settling the disputed status.
These experiences suggested to the Board that several steps should be taken to re-acquaint municipal officials with their responsibilities. The first action the Board took was to adopt a policy statement (PDF Format) intended upon providing guidance on the issue. The Board adopted "Rule 03-1 - Permanent Employment" in July. Secondly, the Board directed that all municipalities that have municipal plans in PMRS be reminded that this requirement to enroll all permanent employees appears not only in the Law but is also provided for in the municipality's agreement (contract) for benefits. Thirdly, beginning with the third quarter of 2003, the System's Quarterly Report of Contributions (PMRB-21) will require the municipality to certify that the requirement to enroll all permanent employees is being met.
Please review the policy statement carefully for additional guidance on the question of who is to be considered a permanent employee. If you have additional questions on the topic, please contact our Membership Services Division at email@example.com or by calling1-800-622-7968. Remember, this issue affects only municipal employees, not police officers or fire fighters.