With all of the bad news coming out of Olympia these days, it’s nice to be able to report on legislation that actually protects, rather than strips away, the benefits of working families.
In one of the most difficult legislative environments for labor groups in decades, your Local Union succeeded in helping to pass a bill that protects public sector pension calculations for employees covered under the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) in the event of reduced workloads for the 2009-2011 biennium.
The legislation directs the Department of Retirement Systems to include in a member's salary for the purpose of calculating final average compensation any compensation that is forgone by the member during the 2009-2011 fiscal biennium as a result of reduced work hours, voluntary leave without pay, or temporary furloughs, provided that the reduced compensation is part of the employer's efforts to reduce expenditures.
Given this legislation, County employees under PERS who plan to retire after the effective date of the Bill (July 26, 2009) will not need to utilize vacation or other paid leave on furlough days that are scheduled to occur between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2011 to avoid a reduction in their retirement benefit. This applies beginning with the furlough day scheduled for July 6, 2009. Given this new legislation, employees who have elected to used paid leave time on this date may wish to reverse this election. This can be done by requesting that the County treat it as unpaid furlough leave. Requests to change the furlough time from paid to unpaid status can be directed to Sharon Brown in benefits by e-mailing her at Sharon-Pay.email@example.com.
To view a summary of the legislation, click here. To read the final bill as passed by the Washington State legislature, click here. If you have additional questions, contact Sharon Brown at Sharon-Pay.firstname.lastname@example.org in the Benefits, Payroll and Retirement Operations Section at King County.