Like salary and health coverage, retirement benefits represent a significant portion of an employee's total compensation package. Currently, 102 Pennsylvania public sector employers participate in the State Employees' Retirement System. Generally, an employer's authority and/or obligation to offer a SERS pension is provided in the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement Code. It may also be in the organization's authorizing statute.
Employers and SERS must work together to ensure proper administration of each employee's retirement benefit.
Key employer tasks include but are not limited to:
- Keeping current with and complying with relevant SERS-related management directives.
- Knowing which of their employees are mandatory, optional, and prohibited members of SERS, including rules related to part-time employees.
- Providing SERS with ongoing, accurate, and timely employment data, including dates of hire, re-hire, emergency hire, termination, job/salary change, certain leave status, military service, and potential forfeiture crime information among other data.
- Budgeting for and paying appropriate employer contributions to the pension system.
- Withholding appropriate employee contributions, forwarding them to SERS, and managing payroll to properly defer federal taxes.
- Working with employees who leave state service to ensure that all agency debts are satisfied, so that SERS can timely process retirements and refunds.
- Helping to educate employees about their retirement benefit by linking to SERS website from their intranets, hosting/publicizing SERS retirement counselors and Empower Retirement deferred comp professionals for free educational sessions, and making SERS printed materials available, etc.
- Referring employee questions to SERS' professional retirement counselors at one of SERS regional counseling centers at 1.800.633.5461.