December 2015

HR Extras

TRS changes rule to help retirees earn full pension benefit in final contract year

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) board approved a rule change to help retirees whose benefit calculation would be harmed by its adoption of a “standardized school year,” from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.
 
In their retirement year, the new rule allows the final average salary on which an educator’s pension is based to be calculated using the highest total compensation received during a 12-month period within his or her last 14 consecutive months on the job. The change corrects the mismatch between the employee’s contract year and TRS’ “standardized school year,” allowing teachers to retire at the end of their contract year rather than retiring in August to get their full pension benefits.
 
The rule is effective for the 2015‒16 year.

Late arrival of final overtime rule could result in short implementation period

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) won’t release its final rule on who is eligible for overtime until late 2016, which would result in a much shorter than usual span—30 to 60 days—between final publication of the rule and its effective date.
 
The proposed rule was released on June 30 and generated more than 250,000 comments during the summer comment period. “Frankly, having a final rule before late summer or early fall [of 2016] was probably an optimistic prediction, given the volume of comments filed and the number of other U.S. DOL regulatory initiatives,” said Alfred Robinson Jr., an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Washington, D.C., and a former acting administrator of the Wage and Hour Division.
 
Employers have been urged to prepare for different scenarios that may come to pass under the rule so they can quickly reclassify their workforce, rather than risk noncompliance.
 
Some may delay action, hoping that a Republican prevails in the November presidential election. A Republican would be more likely to revoke the rule. Another possibility is a phased-in effective date. The more changes the final rule makes, the more likely the DOL and Obama Administration (or a Democratic successor) would consider phasing it in.

Records retention schedule revised

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission recently revised the Retention Schedule for Records Common to all Local Governments (Schedule GR), adding a number of new categories of documents, clarifying some of the previous retention periods, and making some changes to the existing retention periods.
 
Some of the additions include records management records (i.e., records of requests to transfer documents, records management plans, and the name of the records management officer, etc.); subpoenas for cases in which the school district is not a party; and documentation of the release of records not covered by the Public Information Act, such as employment verifications. Americans with Disabilities Act documentation, organizational charts, employee directory information, and disaster preparedness and recovery plans have also been added. The retention period for workers’ compensation claim records for self-insured districts have been differentiated from those of districts that are not self-insured.
 
The updated Schedule GR can be found on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission Website. Changes that affect HR records have also been incorporated into the Sample Records Retention Schedule in the Personnel Records Section of the HR Library.

NCTQ unveils college search tool for students with an interest in teaching

The National Council on Teaching Quality (NCTQ) recently launched the PathtoTeach Website, which is billed as a “consumer guide to colleges of education.” PathtoTeach attempts to provide aspiring teachers with information to help them find the best teacher training options from more than 1,100 colleges and universities and 85 alternative certification programs. Additional programs will be added next year.
 
Aspiring teachers can compare programs by location, tuition costs, enrollment, preparation to teach in different content areas, student teaching quality, and admissions selectivity.
 
NCTQ has pushed for reforms in teacher preparation programs and generated controversy for its annual ratings of those programs. Programs that don’t rate highly criticize the ratings, calling them incomplete and inaccurate. PathtoTeach is based on the same rating system.

Prepare to meet ACA reporting requirements in January

By Jan. 31, 2016, employers with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents must complete Form 1095-C for each employee and distribute those forms to employees to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes that many employers are unaware and unprepared for the coming reporting responsibilities.
 
TASB can help. In April, we conducted a detailed webinar on ACA reporting requirements. HR administrators can access a recording of that webinar and listen with an unlimited number of colleagues an unlimited number of times for up to five days. The cost is $75.
 
TASB Legal e-Source also includes a variety of resources to help districts understand and comply with ACA reporting requirements.

Cárdenas granted honorary membership award

The American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) recently awarded an honorary membership to former Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) Executive Director Melva Cárdenas. According to AASPA, honorary memberships are awarded “…to persons who have distinguished themselves in school personnel work.” Cárdenas retired from TASPA in June.