Revised retired annuitant regulations address cities’ key concerns, but more flexibility is needed

Nov 16, 2022

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is considering revised regulations that would limit the type of work certain retirees can do for public agencies. The previously proposed versions generated significant concern about the ability of public agencies to fill highly technical or seasonal roles.

The changes came after the League of California Cities requested several clarifying amendments and greater flexibility via a comment letter and encouraged cities to submit their own comments.

The proposed regulations specifically seek to define the term “limited duration” for “extra help” positions. Extra help positions are a type of “retired annuitant” appointment, which allow CalPERS retirees to perform part-time, specialized work at public agencies without losing their pensions.

The revised regulations were approved for consideration by the CalPERS Pension and Health Benefits Committee on Nov. 15. The 15-day comment period is expected to open shortly, most likely in early December. A detailed explanation of the changes, along with links to additional resources, is below. To provide feedback on the newest version of the regulations, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Johnnie Pina

What specific amendments did Cal Cities secure?  

The revised regulations address many of Cal Cities’ key concerns. Cal Cities specifically recommended that the regulations be amended to clarify that retirees may be appointed to extra help positions by their former employer for work that is substantially similar to work they performed for that employer before retirement.

This amendment — which was adopted by CalPERS — is critical, as many cities rely on extra help positions to provide seasonal or specialized help. The original regulations were unclear and overly restrictive, which would have created serious staffing problems for cities.

Cal Cities also recommended that the regulations be amended to clarify the process for appointment extensions, allow extensions to be non-consecutive, and remove the requirement that extensions be placed on the consent calendar portion of a public meeting agenda. All three recommendations were accepted.

What else is Cal Cities seeking and what can cities do?

The updated regulations would still restrict employers from granting retirees an extension beyond 48 months if the request is not submitted within 12 months of that original 48 months. Cal Cities’ proposed amendments would retain the existing extension structure but allow for reasonable flexibility that is consistent with the staffing demands of cities.

If a retiree is needed for even a very short time after their original appointment has elapsed, they would not be granted an extension, even if the initial appointment was for a short amount of time. Additional amendments would give public agencies — particularly those in rural areas or working on highly technical projects — the flexibility needed to best serve their communities.

While these additional amendments would be ideal, the updated regulations are still much better than the previous version. Cal Cities will submit a comment letter requesting maximum flexibility when the comment period opens in early December and will also notify cities that the comment period is open.

CalPERS provided a detailed explanation of the proposed regulations in a recent Cal Cities webinar. For additional information, please refer to CalPERS Pension and Health Benefits Committee report, revised regulatory text, original regulatory text, public comments (part one), public comments (part two), and public comments (part three).

For questions or to provide additional feedback on the newest version of the regulations, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Johnnie Pina