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Act 13 of 2020 was signed into law by the Governor on March 27, 2020. This legislation adds a new section (1508.1) to the Public School Code, addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Specifically, as it may impact public school employees and members of the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS), Section 1508.1 provides that:
Waiver of 180-day Instructional Requirement: The 180-day requirement for school entities to remain open for instruction for the 2019-2020 school year is waived. The Secretary of Education was also empowered to take certain enumerated actions, including ordering the closure of schools, increasing the number of flexible instructional days, and waiving the minimum number of hours for a career and technical education program or the minimum number of days for pre-kindergarten instruction.
Payment to School Employees: School employees who were employed as of March 13, 2020, are to receive no more or less compensation than they would have been entitled to receive from their public school employer had the closure of schools or the shortened school year not occurred.
PSERS Service Credit/Contributions: School employees who were employed as of March 13, 2020, are to receive no more or less retirement service credit and contribute no more or less to PSERS than they otherwise would have had the closure of schools or the shortened school year not occurred.
For school employees who were employed as of March 13, 2020, Section 1508.1 provides that any employee of a school entity cannot: (1) receive any more, or any less, salary, (2) earn any more or less service credit, or (3) contribute any more or less than they would have to PSERS had the COVID-19 pandemic not been a factor or the Secretary of Education not taken action.
Yes. In all cases, the employer is to pay and report compensation in an amount no more and no less than the employee would have been entitled to receive had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred or the Secretary of Education not taken action.
If you, as a coach, would have been working during the school closure and were or would have been paid, then the amount of service you should have earned during that closure should be reported to PSERS. If you are not paid, then nothing can be reported to PSERS.
Yes. You remain as an annuitant working in an emergency capacity and get paid, but receive no service credit. You receive no more or less pay than you would have received had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred.
If, in compliance with Section 1508.1, an employer is required to pay a school employee who was receiving unemployment compensation (UC), the employer must report the employee’s full contracted salary and remit the full amount of member and employer retirement contributions.
No. If a PSERS member is employed by a community college or a university, Section 1508.1 does not apply. The provisions regarding the crediting of service and remitting of contributions apply to a “school entity” that is defined as "Any school district, intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, cyber charter school or regional charter school a child attends in order to fulfill the compulsory attendance requirements of the Public School Code.”
Your employer will correct the amounts reported to PSERS and your contributions will be forwarded to PSERS. Your employer has been instructed on the proper procedures for making the corrections.
If you were paid for both weeks, then both weeks will be reported to PSERS with contributions withdrawn. If contributions were not withheld for both weeks then the initial week will be reported with contributions withheld and your employer will correct the reporting for the week where contributions were not withheld.
Yes. Your employer will be required to submit an adjustment to report the wages and remit the employer contributions. You will be billed for your member contributions.
Yes. Regardless of the enacted legislation, employees reported to PSERS by the employer as rendering school service, whether remotely or onsite, are entitled to receive credited service. Your wages/salary and your contributions for this service will be reported to PSERS.
No. Section 1508.1 requires no more and no less payment or crediting of service to employees than what they would have been entitled to receive. Extra pay may be paid, but the law does not permit PSERS to recognize such pay as retirement-covered compensation (RCC). If, however, an employee performs additional duties above and beyond the employee’s regular workload and responsibilities (such as a teacher assisting in providing meals), then the payment may be recognized as RCC. The employee, however, will likely not be entitled to additional service credit in such circumstances.
No. Section 1508.1 does not require such payment, nor does it amend the definition of “compensation” in the Retirement Code that excludes from Retirement-Covered Compensation any reimbursements for expenses that are incidental to employment. Unvouchered expense allowances that may be paid are also excluded from being reporting to your PSERS retirement account; this applies to both the defined benefit and defined contribution portions of a PSERS account.
No. Section 1508.1 requires no more and no less payment or crediting of service to employees than what they would have been entitled to receive. Regardless of the reason, an employee who was previously placed on an unpaid leave and who was not expected to work after March 13, 2020 is not entitled to service credit or contributions reported under Section 1508.1. Thus, any payment the employer may decide to pay to you will be considered non-retirement-covered compensation and is not reportable to PSERS.
Your sabbatical is reported as if school was in session and you will receive the full PSERS credit you would have received regardless of the closure of the schools or the shortened school year. The return requirements were not changed by Section 1508.1 and remain in place for you to get credit for the sabbatical.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) current guidance is that schools are not required to adjust their calendars. Unless a school does extend its calendar to provide for additional instructional days, based on PDE’s current guidance, the last day of employment will be the last day the employee would normally work in the school year. If a school does extend its school year, then the last day of employment for a school year will reflect that extension.