2703 - Peace Officer/Firefighter Retirement (POFF)
- Employee Relations Officers
- Personnel Officers
- Personnel Transactions Staff
- Personnel Transactions Supervisors
- Agency Secretaries
- Chief Deputy Directors
- Chiefs of Administration
- Department Deputy Directors
- Department Directors
- Outlines the PO/FF retirement benefits
- Outlines the criteria for determining eligibility for PO/FF retirement benefits for rank and file, excluded, Career Executive Assignment (CEA), and Exempt employees
- Outlines the process for requesting a PO/FF class or position designation
- Provides the effective date for PO/FF retirement benefits
- Outlines the reporting requirements
The Peace Officer/Firefighter (PO/FF) retirement membership was designed for state employees who are employed in law enforcement classifications or positions and firefighters whose principal duties consist of active firefighting/fire suppression.
The purpose of this policy is to outline the retirement benefits and criteria used by CalHR to determine which classifications or positions are eligible for PO/FF retirement benefits.
PO/FF Retirement Benefits
The major benefits of the PO/FF retirement plan include:
Higher benefit formula (3 percent at age 50, 3 percent at age 55, 2.5 percent at age 55, 2.7 percent at age 57 or 2.5 percent at age 57), as specified in the Memoranda of Understandings and CalPERS laws.
Earlier retirement age compared to state employees subject to the miscellaneous and industrial membership.
Enhanced death and disability benefits.
Employees and employers are exempt from paying Social Security tax.
Criteria for Determining Eligibility for PO/FF Retirement Benefits
CalPERS laws, Government Code sections 20391, 20392, 20393, and 20395, provides PO/FF eligibility and criteria as follows:
Rank and File Employees
PO/FF membership includes full-time permanent employees represented by either Bargaining Unit 6 (Corrections), Bargaining Unit 7 (Protective Services and Public Safety), or Bargaining Unit 8 (Firefighters).
Peace officers must be employed in classifications that are designated as “peace officer” as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code.
Firefighters who have principal duties that consist of active firefighting/fire suppression.
Traditionally, any changes to retirement designations for rank and file classifications must be conducted by CalHR through the bargaining and State Personnel Board processes.
Excluded, CEA, and Exempt Employees
CalPERS law, Government Code section 20398, outlines the criteria required for PO/FF membership for excluded, CEA, and Exempt employees.
- PO/FF membership includes state officers and employees (other than patrol officers) designated as “peace officers,” as defined in Penal Code sections 830.1, 830.2, 830.3, 830.38, 830.4, and 830.5. In addition, the majority (51 percent) of his or her duties must consist of one of the following:
- Responsibility for direct supervision of state PO/FF personnel as specified in CalPERS law, Government Code section 20391, 20392, 20393, and 20395. This criteria would generally apply to supervisors and managers who have direct supervision of rank and file PO/FF members.
- Conducting investigations or audit of investigatory practices and other audit of, or in, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This criteria would generally apply to special agents and affiliated supervisors and managers.
- Administration of programs of an agency, department, or other organizational unit that is primarily responsible for active law enforcement or active fire suppression. This criteria would generally apply to employees in CEA and Exempt positions.
- Firefighters who have principal duties that consist of active firefighting/fire suppression.
Definitions: For purposes of determining PO/FF eligibility, pursuant to CalPERS law, Government Code section 20398:
"Classification" means a group of civil service positions with the same body of work, same work location, collective bargaining unit identifier, or other work-related grouping (e.g., correctional officers, sergeants, etc.).
"Position" means an employee who is not in a group or classification of employment. This would include an employee in a CEA or Exempt appointment.
“Administration” means the actions of the employee designated as a PO/FF member in a position that is in the direct chain of command over an agency, department, or organizational unit in which the majority (at least 51 percent) of employees are state PO/FF members.
“Direct Supervision” means the actions of the employee designated as a PO/FF member in a position that is in the direct chain of command over state peace officers or firefighters.
Exclusions: Employees in a classification or position shall not be granted PO/FF benefits if the ongoing responsibilities include the following:
Data Processing or Information Technology
Administrative oversight of administrative staff
Requesting a PO/FF Class or Position Designation
Departments and labor organizations must submit a PO/FF designation request to CalHR, Benefits Division, as follows:
The department should review the PO/FF membership criteria to determine if the classification or position may meet PO/FF requirements.
If the request is for use of an existing civil service classification designated as PO/FF, departments must seek advanced
If the PO/FF request is for a new civil service classification, departments must seek advanced consultation with CalHR, Personnel Management Division.
If the PO/FF request is for a new or existing CEA position, departments must seek advanced consultation with CalHR, Personnel Management Division. CEA positions with previous PO/FF approval must be reviewed when there is a new appointment, changes to the duties of the position, organizational structure, position title, or position number.
If the PO/FF request is for a new or existing Exempt position, departments must seek advanced consultation with CalHR, Exempt Program Unit. Exempt positions with previous PO/FF approval must be reviewed when there is a new appointment, changes to the duties of the position, organizational structure, position title or number.
Complete the “Retirement Designation Request, CalHR Form 619,” PO/FF Questionnaire, CalHR Form 170, and attach the supporting documents outlined in the form. Submit all documents as one package. All documents must be signed by your executive staff.
Submit the PO/FF retirement designation request package under the following options:
- a. Scan and email package to: RetirementRequests@calhr.ca.gov, or
- b. Mail/interagency/deliver to:
CalHR, Benefits Division
1515 S Street, North Building, Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95811
Approval of PO/FF Designation
If CalHR staff determines the classification or position meets the PO/FF criteria, CalHR will send a written notice to the department, SCO, and CalPERS approving PO/FF designation.
SCO will establish the position as PO/FF retirement in their system.
CalPERS will then update the employee retirement account and send the department, SCO, and CalHR the PO/FF confirmation notice via email.
Departments will have authority to key in the position transactions without generating errors from SCO and CalPERS databases.
If the classification or position does not meet PO/FF criteria, CalHR, Benefits Division will send a written denial notice to the department or requesting organization.
Note: Departments are not authorized to provide PO/FF designation for a class or position without CalHR approval. The CalHR review process may take up to 30-45 days depending on the complexity of the request.
PO/FF Enrollment Errors
Departments should ensure the classification or position has been approved for PO/FF prior to keying in PO/FF retirement designations. Both CalHR and CalPERS conduct periodic audits to identify any PO/FF enrollment errors. If it is determined an employee is misallocated to the PO/FF retirement plan, a correction must be made retroactively to the date the error was made in order to be in compliance with CalPERS laws, Government Code section 20160-20164.
Effective Date for PO/FF Retirement Benefits
CalHR has no authority to approve requests on a retroactive basis. The Public Employee’s Pension Reform Act of 2013 prohibits all public employers from providing retroactive enhancements to a public employee’s retirement formula or benefits adopted on or after January 1, 2013, and cannot apply to any service performed prior to the effective date. Please refer to Government Code section 7522.44. The PO/FF enrollment effective date must be the beginning of the monthly pay period.
Ongoing Reporting Responsibilities
CalHR and departmental staff must ensure the following ongoing reporting is conducted to ensure state employee retirement benefits are accurately reported to CalPERS.
CalHR must submit the annual report to the Legislature containing all classifications and positions approved by CalHR for PO/FF membership.
CalHR must maintain a report of all PO/FF retirement requests, approvals, denials, and other historical documents.
CalHR must conduct periodic review of the PO/FF plan to identify any enrollment issues and trends.
CalHR must identify retirement legislation that impacts retirement eligibility and benefits.
Departments must notify CalHR of any changes made to classifications or positions to ensure the PO/FF designation is in compliance with specified laws. A change includes: change to the incumbent, duties of the position, organizational structure, position title, or position number.
SCO Personnel/Payroll: Phone: (916) 445-5361
Fax: (916) 322-6493
CalPERS Phone: 888-CalPERS (or 888-225-7377)
TTY: (877) 249-7442
Fax: (800) 959-6545
Departments should notify employees of changes to the PO/FF retirement eligibility or benefits upon receiving notice from CalHR.
Departments must enter the appropriate retirement code in the SCO system.
- Bargaining Contracts - MOUs
- Government Code sections 20391,20392, 20393, 20395, and 20398
- Government Code sections 7522 to 7522.74
- Penal Code sections 830.1, 830.2, 830.3, 830.38, 830.4, and 830.5
- CalPERS Laws: Government Code sections 20160-20164
- PO/FF Member: Frequently Asked Questions: PO/FF Member: Frequently Asked Questions
- CalHR 619: Retirement Designation Request Form
- CalHR Form 170: : Peace Officer/Firefighter Determination Questionnaire
- PML 2009-002: PML 2009-002 - 1/8/2009 - Peace Officer/Firefighter Retirement Criteria for CEA and Exempt Positions
- PML 2016-006: PML 2016-006 - 3/1/2016 - New State Safety and Peace Officer/Firefighter Retirement Designation Request
- 2701: CalPERS Contribution Rates and Benefit Formulas
- 2702: State Safety Retirement
- 2704: CalPERS 1959 Survivor Benefit Program
- CalPERS Publications: Forms and Publications
Program Manager, Retirement Policy
Chief, Benefits Division