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Our View: Rehiring retired needs to be phased out

Our View
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To rehire a retiree or not? A recent change in law to the California Public Employees Retirement System prohibits government entities from re-hiring a retired public employee on a permanent part-time basis. The law still allows for those collecting their public pension to work up to 960 hours in one year. While some local government leaders say this law hampers a cost effective way of using an experienced worker, the new law is a step in the right direction. Despite the initial shock and hardship of adjusting to the change, the law is one worth following, and not simply because it is a law. Retired public employees have made the decision to retire. Their vacancies, if they can be filled, should be filled with those currently seeking employment. Placer’s unemployment rate hovered around 10 percent in 2011. That percentage shows there is a pool of people seeking work. Yes, there are more costs associated with hiring and training someone new. At some point, that cost was also spent on the now-retired worker. If a public worker still wants to use their expertise and work, they should remain in the workforce. The option of collecting both a pension and a paycheck from taxpayers, regardless of the size of that check and pension, needs to come to an end. Institutional knowledge that comes with a long-term employee is a difficult thing for an organization, public or private, to lose. However, the fresh perspective, new ideas and energy a new hire can bring can be just as valuable as they learn along the way. If a retiree is needed on specific projects, it’s worth hiring them as a consultant or temporary help, for which the law still allows. In accordance with the new law, that practice should become the exception and not the norm. Our local county and city government leaders should look at this law as a push in the right direction, instead of a step backward or cost prohibitive decision. They should also limit as much as possible the use of the 960 hours allowed to rehire a retiree. Advertise part-time positions publically and allow the current pool of job seekers to put their best foot forward. In a diligent hiring process, government leaders may very well be pleasantly surprised with the new change they may get.