If employees are eligible for membership in URS, they must be certified online immediately. There is no choice
of whether or not eligible employees should be certified online with URS unless employees qualify as exempt
from retirement coverage. Employee exemption is not automatic. It is the employer's responsibility
to inform employees of their right to exempt from URS. The appropriate exemption form stating an effective
date must be completed before the exemption date.
In completing online certification, employers certify that employees are eligible for membership. Besides
notifying our office of new members, employers are required to notify the office with the appropriate
documentation when members have changes in eligibility. Employers must provide these notifications as
soon as administratively possible and not later than 60 days after the effective dates for the members.
Public Employees Noncontributory & Contributory Retirement System Membership
Membership Eligibility Requirements
Employees qualify for membership and must be certified eligible if they meet one of the following:
- Their employment, contemplated to continue during a fiscal or calendar year, normally requires an average of 20 hours or more per week and they receive at least one of the benefits approved by the Retirement Board.
- They are teachers, including substitutes, who teach half time or more and receive any benefit approved by the Retirement Board.
- They are Tier 1 elected or appointed officials who earn the minimum salary required by law beginning their first full month in office and continuing throughout their term of office. The minimum salary is increased yearly based on the Consumer Price Index.
- They are Tier 2 elected or appointed officials whose positions have been declared full time by their employers.
- They are in a probationary status and meet eligibility requirements. (Probationary employees who meet eligibility requirements must be certified immediately.)
- They perform services through an employee leasing or similar arrangement and they meet eligibility requirements, unless they are being paid through the leasing company rather than the employer’s payroll.
Classified school employees who were hired prior to July 1, 2013, and who have met eligibility requirements with their current employer before that date, maintain their status until separation from their current employment. However, if the employee returns to work on or after July 1, 2013, with either the same or a different participating employer, or if the employee was previously certified as ineligible, both the 20 hour average work week and the receiving benefit(s) criteria must be met for eligibility. Remember, if an employee returns to work for the same employer within 120 days of separation, URS does not consider the employee separated from employment.
Public Safety Noncontributory and Contributory Retirement Systems
Membership Eligibility Requirements
Employees qualify for membership in a public safety retirement system if their life or personal safety is at risk and their employment normally requires an average of 2,080 hours of regularly scheduled employment per year in a recognized public safety department, as a:
- Law enforcement officer according to Utah Code Ann. § 53-13-103;
- Correctional officer according to Utah Code Ann. § 53-13-104;
- Full-time member of the Board of Pardons and Parole; or a
- Special functions officer according to Utah Code Ann. § 53-13-105, if approved by the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Employers must complete the online certification and select their public safety retirement plan from a drop-down box that will prompt them to choose from an approved position listing.
Employees must have completed Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). A POST certificate must be filed with our office for anyone certified eligible since January 1, 1984. An employee has one year from the date of hire to a public safety covered position to complete POST. If POST is not completed within one year, the employee’s retirement account is transferred to either the Tier 1 or Tier 2 Public Employees Retirement System effective retroactive to the date of hire to the public safety position. Employees who separate from employment prior to obtaining a POST certificate may not be eligible to retain their service credit in a public safety system. If a participating employer requests a credit for the difference to transfer paid contributions from the public safety system to the public employees system, URS will contact the employee to request a copy of the POST certificate. The employee has 30 days from the date of the letter to provide a copy of the certificate to our office; otherwise service and contributions will be transferred to the Public Employees Retirement System.
All employers participating in any of the Public Safety Retirement Systems must submit an annual schedule of positions covered by these systems. If employees don’t meet the eligibility requirements listed above, based on employer participation, they must be certified in the Tier 1 or Tier 2 Public Employees Retirement System if eligibility requirements are met.
Firefighters Retirement Systems
Employees qualify for membership in the Firefighters Retirement System if their employment normally requires an average of 2,080 hours of regularly scheduled employment per year in a regularly constituted fire department. Employees must be trained in firefighter techniques and be assigned to a position of hazardous duty.
If employees are not trained in firefighter techniques or they are not assigned to a position of hazardous duty, based on employer participation, they must be enrolled in either the Public Employees Contributory or Noncontributory Retirement System as long as eligibility requirements are met.
Volunteer firefighters do not contribute to the system and are not eligible for service retirement benefits.
Judges Noncontributory Retirement System
Judges or justices of the courts of record working in a full-time capacity must be certified online. A city's justice court judge (justice of the peace) is not eligible for certification in the Judges Noncontributory Retirement System. Refer to the eligibility requirements under the Public Employees Contributory Retirement System and the Public Employees' Noncontributory Retirement System in this section.
Eligibility Requirement for Elected and Appointed Officials
Eligibility for retirement coverage is not determined by the number of hours worked or the benefits provided, but is based on the minimum monthly earnings requirement for elected and appointed officials during the first full month of the term of office.
An appointive officer is an employee who is appointed to a position for a definite and fixed term of office, by official and duly recorded action of a participating employer, whose appointed position is recorded in the employer's charter, creation document, or similar document.
If elected or appointed officials of a city, town, county, or other political subdivision, who are not entitled to merit protection, meet the minimum earnings requirement for membership, they may enroll by completing a Defined Benefit Enrollment Form—Public Employees Noncontributory Retirement System (Form MEMS-2), or they may exempt from coverage.
The state of Utah elected or appointed positions may exempt from coverage in accordance with Utah Code Ann. 67-22-2.
Utah Governors and Legislators Retirement Plan
Governors of the state of Utah, as well as all legislators in both the state Senate and House of Representatives, are eligible for coverage under this Tier 1 plan if they have eligible service credit in any URS retirement plan through June 30, 2011.
Governors and legislators may elect to forfeit a retirement benefit and participate exclusively in a defined contribution plan administered by our office pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 49-19-403. If governors or legislators choose this exempt status, state agencies should certify them online as eligible, print a Request for Exemption (Form MERQ-5), and give it to the governor/legislator to complete, sign, and forward to our office before the effective exemption date on the form.
The Governors and Legislators Retirement Plan is closed to elected officials who begin initial employment on or after July 1, 2011. When employers certify their positions are full time, they are only eligible to participate in the Tier 2 Public Employees Defined Contribution Plan.