News & Events

COVID-19 Changes Rules for Working After Retirement

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-25-20 (PDF) to further enhance California’s ability to respond. The order lifts work restrictions for retired annuitants, but only applies if your work is directly related to assisting with the COVID-19 response.

If your work is in response to this emergency, the governor suspended these rules for retired annuitants:

  • 960-work-hour limit (per fiscal year)
  • 180-day break in service
  • 60-day separation service requirement
    • If you are under the normal retirement age, you can still return to work before the 60-day separation, but the law still prohibits you from entering into any predetermined employment agreement between you and the employer to return to work.
    • If you have attained the normal retirement age, you can work with your employer to determine when you can return to service. Normal retirement age for CalPERS purposes is the age listed in your retirement benefit formula, for example, age 55 for the 2% at 55 formula, or age 62 for the 2% at 62 formula.

For example, if the person who typically distributes checks in the accounting office is out of work due to illness or for childcare reasons, you may work in their place. This exemption would also apply if an employer needs extra janitorial staff to help clean the building, for example.

The suspension is active from the date the state of emergency was declared (March 4, 2020) until the state of emergency is lifted.

If your work is in compliance with this order, you will receive a letter confirming that you can exceed the 960-hour limit per fiscal year.

Rules to Remember

While some of the rules are suspended due to the emergency, restrictions still apply if you’re considering working as a retiree with a CalPERS-covered employer. Violating those restrictions may result in potential consequences. These rules still apply:

  • CalPERS retirees can only work for CalPERS-covered employers as retired annuitants in positions designated for retirees only and employed for extra help or special project work. You cannot be employed in a regular staff position, even if the position is part time.
  • A recent retiree must separate from all CalPERS-covered employment, even if that employment was not reported to CalPERS.
  • Once employed, you can only be paid the hourly pay rate on the CalPERS-covered employer’s publicly available pay schedule for employees doing comparable work. You cannot receive any other additional compensation or benefits (for example, vacation pay, longevity pay, shift differentials, or bonuses).

Violating any of these post-retirement employment requirements may result in mandatory reinstatement. If reinstated, your retirement will be terminated, and you’ll be required to reimburse CalPERS the amount of retirement allowance received during the violation period.

For further details, please read the letter (PDF) we sent to CalPERS employers.

Additional information and other conditions not covered in this article, such as working as a disability retiree or independent contractor, are detailed on our Working After Retirement page. You can also view our publication Employment After Retirement (PUB 33) (PDF) for more information, or call us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377) with any questions.