Legislature Restores Retiree Work Limit To 1,200 Hours

Legislature Restores Retiree Work Limit To 1,200 Hours
Senators Crighton, Rodrigues and Feeney with Mass Retirees Officials

Rejects Governor’s Counter Proposal

 AUGUST 1, 2018: Late last night, the Legislature reapproved Mass Retirees proposal increasing the limit on public sector post retirement employment to 1,200 hours annually.

The legislation, which is now known as H4821, increases the hourly limit part time work from the current limit of 960 hours to 1,200 per year. H4821 is now before Governor Charlie Baker, who has 10 days in which to either approve or veto the bill.

As members know, the formal legislative session ended last night at midnight. This means that there will not be an opportunity to override a veto should Governor Baker reject H4821. 

Members impacted by the increased work limits, are asked to call the Governor’s office and ask that he sign H4821 into law. Retirees can call 617-725-4005 or email by clicking here.

In the final hours of the 2017-18 Session, our Association was assisted by several members of the House and Senate who made the passage of H4821 a personal priority. In the House, Public Service Chairman Jerald Parisella (D-Beverly) joined with Representatives Marc Cusack (D-Braintree) and Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) to gain quick action by the House.

Over in the Senate, Public Service Chairman Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) and Senators Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) and Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) carried the measure. As the clock clicked toward midnight on Tuesday evening, all three Senators could be seen on the Senate floor advocating for the passage of H4821. Following Senate action, House leaders quickly passed the bill for final enactment, an action quickly replicated by the Senate just minutes before midnight as the session drew to a close.

“We are very grateful for the hard work and dogged determination of those legislators who helped us pass this bill Tuesday night. Without their support, retirees would have no chance at being allowed to work a few more hours each year,” says Association Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “Now we hope that Governor Baker does the right thing and signs H4821 into law. We see this proposal as reasonable and necessary.”

Part-Time Service Allowed

Our proposal does not change the limit on post retirement earnings, which was last updated in 2014. Public retirees, seeking to return to work for a Massachusetts government entity, are restricted on both the hours they can work AND the amount of money they are allowed to earn. However, no such restrictions apply to superannuation (non-disability) retirees working in the private sector, federal government or in a government job outside of Massachusetts.

Restrictions on public retirees returning to public sector jobs date back to 1913, when retirees were not allowed to reenter public service other than as a juror. Over the years the law has been amended some fifty times to adjust the policy – at times making it less stringent and other times creating further restrictions.

“For more than a century the public policy has been that in most cases, public retirees are not allowed to collect their pension and also return to full time government work within Massachusetts. The law does have limited exceptions, such as for teachers in school districts where the state deems a critical shortage, as well as allowing for retirees to waive their pension in order to return to work,” explains Association President Frank Valeri. “We believe the time has come for the law to be updated to meet the demands of today’s workforce. It is good public policy for retirees to be allowed to work part-time in a government job. Our members have years of experience and knowledge that is not easily replaced. They are an asset to any organization.

“Today’s retirees are also living longer, healthier and far more active than retirees from previous generations. Continuing to work part time is becoming the norm and should be encouraged. And for many members, part time work helps to support their family and supplement modest pension and Social Security benefits that have been reduced by the WEP law.”

Rejection of Governor’s Proposal

Originally passed as Section 29 within the FY19 State Budget, the proposal was rejected by the governor on July 26. Instead of outright vetoing the measure, the governor sent the language back to the Legislature “for correction” with a counter proposal. While objecting to the 240 hour increase beyond the current limit, the governor proposed just a 15 hour increase – amounting to 17 minutes per week.

In addition, the governor also proposed the creation of a waiver process, whereby public safety retirees would be allowed to return to full time work without any restriction on hours or income. Waivers would be issued on an annual basis by the Secretary of Administration and Finance at the request of municipal governments or state agencies suffering a “critical shortage” of public safety personnel. However, it is unclear as to where or even if such a scenario exists in Massachusetts.

Again, retirees who are impacted by this proposal are encouraged to contact Governor Baker and ask that he approve H4821. Retirees can call 617-725-4005 or email by clicking here.