Employer Digest

Fall 2020

MANY OP&F MEMBERS OPTING FOR COBRA UPON RETIREMENT

OP&F provides its retirees with access to healthcare and assists members financially in purchasing a plan. OP&F partners with the Aon Retiree Health Exchange to assist eligible retirees in selecting a healthcare plan that best suits their needs. Each eligible retiree who enrolls has a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) funded with an annual stipend from OP&F. Once a healthcare plan is selected, retirees pay premiums to the provider and can be reimbursed for approved expenses using the HRA.

The OP&F health care stipend can be used to pay for COBRA costs instead of OP&F retirees signing up immediately for health care insurance on a marketplace exchange plan. These retirees can instead opt for COBRA benefits for eighteen months before losing their eligibility. At this time the retirees can opt into the OP&F stipend programs, as loss of COBRA coverage is considered a qualifying event to be eligible.

Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), many employees and their families who would lose group health coverage because of life events including retirement can continue coverage in the employer’s group health plan for a limited time, usually at their own expense. The stipend offered through the OP&F stipend program can help offset some of these costs for OP&F retirees.

A Health Care Stipend Eligibility form is available on the OP&F website and must be submitted by the member during the retirement process along with proof of their enrollment in the COBRA plan. Employers should be prepared to provide to OP&F members with the supporting documentation needed by OP&F from COBRA on the choices available to them1 including the effective date of COBRA coverage, and names of the persons enrolled in the plan.

TRUSTEE ELECTIONS TAKING PLACE THIS FALL

PREVIOUSLY POSTPONED DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

OP&F members will elect an active police representative, an active fire representative and a retired police representative to the Board of Trustees during elections in November.

A notice of election was mailed to police and fire departments and to retired police members on Sept. 8, and election materials, including nominating petitions, certificates of eligibility and election rules were posted to the OP&F website on that date. Eligible members who intended to run for a position on the Board of Trustees must have submitted all required forms and information to OP&F no later than 4 p.m. on Oct 12. Ballots will be mailed in late October with a deadline to return them by Dec. 1. The election results will be announced by Dec. 21. The new term for the trustees will begin Jan. 4, 2021.

PERSONAL HISTORY RECORD FORM CHANGE

As announced in the previous Employer Digest, the Personal History Record is now two separate forms that are available on the OP&F website at the link below. Employers will complete the Employer Certification form and members will complete the separate Member Information form.

Employer Forms Page

The purpose of implementing separate forms is to create a more streamlined process relating to new members. With the separation of forms comes a separation of responsibilities; the employer is responsible for verification of a member’s full-time status including the full-time hire date and initial salary, and the member is responsible for providing basic demographic information as well as verification of any prior public employment or military service. This service may be eligible for transfer or purchase at a later date.

FUNDAMENTALS OF REPORTING HOLIDAY PAY

Properly reporting a member’s holiday pay can take different forms, depending on the circumstances. Here are the possible scenarios:

The member has the holiday off and this is part of the member’s regular schedule.

In this scenario, the member is paid at his/ her regular pay rate, and the holiday is considered to be part of the member’s “base” hours and pay. Thus, it is reported under the regular pay code (code 0) and no special notations are needed on the report.

The member is scheduled to work on the holiday and receives premium pay as a result.

In this scenario, the member is scheduled to work on the holiday. Because of this, he/she may receive “premium,” or extra pay. For example, a member working eight hours on a holiday may be paid at time and one half, or even double time for these hours worked. This would still be included as part of the member’s regular base pay (reported under pay code 0). However, a comment on the payroll to explain the extra pay is helpful. Comments such as “holiday worked” or “holiday pay” are generally acceptable in this case. Note: Do not “inflate” the hours base and hours paid beyond the number of hours actually worked. For example if the hours base for a reporting period is 160, do not inflate this number to 168 simply because the member worked eight hours on a holiday.

The member is called in to work a holiday that is not part of his/her schedule.

In this case, the holiday is NOT part of a member’s base hours. Thus, the paid hours and earnings need to be broken out as a separate entry line on the report, using pay code 1 (holiday), and reflecting the hours paid for the holiday as well as the earnings and pension deductions.

The member is paid a lump sum of unused holiday leave.

In this scenario, the member has unused holiday time that is payable in a lump sum. It is not uncommon to see members cashing out unused holiday leave at the end of a calendar year. If this occurs, the payment would be reported using the holiday pay code (pay code 1) with the paid hours listed, as well as the earning period. The earning period would commonly be January 1 through December 31 of a given calendar year. Note: Cash outs of unused holiday leave deferred more than one year after being earned, are not considered “salary” under OP&F laws and rules.

HOLIDAYS OBSERVED BY THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

On holidays observed by the Federal Reserve System, banks are not open for business which could impact payroll reporting. For holidays falling on Saturday, Federal Reserve Banks and Branches will be open the preceding Friday; however, the Board of Governors will be closed. For holidays falling on Sunday, all Federal Reserve offices will be closed the following Monday. The 2020 – 2024 Holidays observed chart is available at the link below or the accompanying image.

Holidays observed by the Federal Reserve System

ACCRUED LIABILITY SECOND-HALF BILLINGS DISTRIBUTED TO OP&F EMPLOYERS

In mid-October, Employers who still have accrued liability balances dating back to the creation of OP&F in the 1960s should have received correspondence from OP&F, including amounts due. Not all employers are subject to accrued liability so only those that are subject should have received the correspondence.

Accrued liability balances can be traced back to the beginnings of OP&F when in 1965, the Ohio General Assembly created the pension fund. This action resulted in the replacement of 454 separate local police and firefighter relief and pension funds around the state, with one consolidated retirement system which began operations on Jan. 1, 1967. On that date, the local funds transferred their assets and liabilities to OP&F. Unfortunately, the transferred assets totaled approximately $75 million, while the total accrued liabilities were approximately $490 billion.

To address this shortfall, the Ohio legislature enacted a statute which enabled employers (not all employers had a shortfall) to pay off their share of the unfunded liability over a substantial period of years (1969-2035). Under the law, OP&F bills employers subject to accrued liability two times per year, in April and October. These bills are made up of two components, principal and interest. The interest on an employer’s invoice is accrued at a rate of 4.25 percent of the outstanding balance. Employers that wish to pay off the balance of their accrued liability in a lump sum may do so. Such a payoff can result in significant savings by eliminating the interest portion of the cost.

GASB UPDATES NOW AVAILABLE

The newest GASB 68 data through Dec. 31, 2019, is now available on the OP&F website by clicking here. In June of 2012, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued Statement 68 which required governments that provide defined benefit pension plans, to recognize their long-term liability for retirement benefits, as a liability on their financial statements. It is important for employers to keep in mind that this GASB reporting obligation creates an accounting liability, not a legal liability. The legal liability for OP&F employers is that they report and pay the statutory member and employer contributions each month in accordance with Chapter 742 of the Ohio Revised Code.

From the GASB perspective, pensions are seen as part of a total compensation package and employment relationship between employer and employee. To the degree a pension system is not 100% funded, GASB believes that employers have a liability (on paper) for the unfunded portion of the pension system that is in proportion to their share of the total liability. Each year, OP&F discloses on their website the information employers will need to complete their financial statements in accordance with the GASB 68 requirements. This information includes the total employer contributions for the given calendar year, and the employer allocation as a percentage of this total. The disclosure information is broken down by the five-character division code for each employer.

GASB 75 information is also available on the on the OP&F website. GASB 75 replaces GASB 45 and accounts for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB). This is primarily liability received by OP&F retirees. Since GASB 68 covers only pension plans, OPEB must be reported separately on an employer’s financial statements.

IMPORTANT DATES AND DEADLINES

Important dates and deadlines are also posted on OP&F’s website under the Employers menu in the Calendar of Billing Deadlines and Events section.

OCTOBER 31

Payroll deductions, member and employer contributions and payroll reports for September 2020.

NOVEMBER 15

2nd Semi-accrued liability bills

NOVEMBER 30

Payroll deductions, member and employer contributions and payroll reports for October 2020.

DECEMBER 31

Payroll deductions, member and employer contributions and payroll reports for November 2020.

OP&F provides the Employer Digest as a general reference material in order to assist employers in properly reporting required contributions to OP&F, as well as submitting the required forms and materials that are necessary to provide benefits for our members. As a general reference material, the Employer Digest may not sufficiently represent all of the details applicable to the subjects discussed. Nothing contained in this newsletter is meant to interpret, extend or change, in any way, OP&F’s governing statutes, administrative rules or policies. If you have any questions or need information on any subjects referenced in the Employer Digest, please contact OP&F.

COPYRIGHT © 2020 by Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, All Rights Reserved.

For a PDF copy of the Fall 2020 Employer Digest, please click here.

Posted 10/23/2020