State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

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STRS Ohio Update for Reporting Employers

STRS Ohio Employer News

Posted: May 2016 · Print Copy

Introducing STRS Ohio’s Electronic Newsletter

STRS Ohio is now delivering an electronic newsletter directly to your inbox. Recent feedback from employers indicated strong support for receiving news and information electronically from STRS Ohio.

In May, employer representatives with an email address on file with STRS Ohio received the first electronic edition of Update for Employers. If you did not receive it but would like to get future issues, please email [email protected]. You can also view it on our website.

Offering an electronic newsletter is one step we are taking to strengthen the services and resources STRS Ohio provides. We hope you find it to be a helpful and convenient source of information.

STRS Ohio Is Listening

STRS Ohio is continually exploring ways to better serve our employers. Your input helps us improve our reporting processes, customer service, communications and education programs. Recently, we received valuable feedback from our Employer Advisory Council and the employer satisfaction survey that will assist in strengthening the services and resources we provide.

Employer Advisory Council

The Employer Reporting Department held its first Employer Advisory Council meeting in December 2015. This newly formed group is comprised of treasurers, payroll representatives and an information technology center (ITC) representative. These individuals represent STRS Ohio’s diverse employer group. Invitations were sent to a small sampling of city and local schools, colleges and universities, educational service centers, community schools, boards of developmental disabilities and an ITC.

The purpose of the advisory council is to obtain feedback to improve reporting processes and procedures, as well as build stronger working relationships between STRS Ohio, all employers and ITCs. The group plans to meet twice a year.

At the December meeting, council members provided feedback on ways to improve employer communications and ideas for revamping retirement reporting forms. In addition, the council presented some wish list items for STRS Ohio to consider. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for May 2016. STRS Ohio would like to thank our Employer Advisory Council members for participating and providing feedback.

Employer Satisfaction Survey Results

Last fall, STRS Ohio invited employers to complete an online survey to provide feedback on the Employer Reporting Department’s customer service, training materials and available resources. Thank you to the 438 employer representatives who responded to our survey. We value your feedback. Some results are outlined below.

  • Nearly 99% said their phone calls or email messages are always or most of the time returned within 24 hours.
  • Nearly 97% indicated they are extremely or somewhat satisfied with the overall customer service of the Employer Reporting Department.
  • More than 91% indicated workshops and training sessions are extremely or somewhat informative. (Nearly 8% said they have never attended a workshop or training event.)
  • More than 87% prefer to receive breaking news, newsletters and training announcements via email.
  • More than 30% of employers use our employer website daily or weekly.
Next Steps

We are listening and taking action. As a result of discussions with the Employer Advisory Council and responses to the employer satisfaction survey, STRS Ohio is committed to serving you better by:

  • Making minor revisions to help clarify required information on the deposit and service report and request for additional information form. These changes were implemented in April for June retirements.
  • Offering a variety of education and training resources to employers of all knowledge levels, both online and in-person throughout the state.
  • Hosting free live webinars during 2016. These presentations allow you to receive training on important topics without leaving your office. After the conclusion of the live webinar, an on-demand version will be available within a month for any employer who could not participate in the live session.
  • Sending breaking news, important due dates and training announcements via email.
  • Offering an electronic newsletter starting with this edition. See the related article above.
  • Adding several new tools to our website, including a pickup-on-pickup calculator, ESS tutorials and on-demand webinars.
Member Contribution Rate Increases July 1, 2016

The member contribution rate will increase to 14% for work performed on and after July 1, 2016. This is the final year of the phase-in period increasing the member contribution rate to 14%.

As you prepare for July 1, ensure your payroll system can accommodate the additional 1% in member contributions and withhold contributions at two different rates depending on the fiscal year in which the compensation is earned. With the rate increase, you will need to pay close attention to when money is earned versus when it is paid. Any accrued contributions, such as “advance” or “summer stretch” pay, will be paid at the 13% member contribution rate during July and August. Only new earnings on and after July 1 should be withheld at the new 14% rate.

In addition to payroll considerations, please review your pickup plan documentation to determine if your plan needs to be amended to account for the rate increase. If your current plan is at the “rate in effect,” it will automatically be updated to include the 1% member contribution rate increase. You do not need to amend your plan unless you want to change the percentage being picked up or the type of plan offered.

However, if your current plan specifies percentages, you will need to amend it to include the additional 1% in member contributions. Please submit a Notification for Employer Pickup of Employee Contributions form effective July 1, 2016, along with a copy of the applicable board resolution. Click here for a sample board resolution.

Several resources are available to help you prepare for the member contribution rate increase:

  • This checklist provides a to-do list to ensure you are ready for the new fiscal year:
    • Update your payroll system to accommodate the 1% member contribution rate increase for compensation earned on and after July 1, 2016.
    • Confirm your payroll system can withhold accrued contributions at 13% and new earnings at 14% for the same time period (July and August).
    • Verify July and August contributions on compensation earned by June 30, 2016, are correctly marked as accrued on your payroll reports.
    • Advise teachers to turn in their timesheets before the last pay of the fiscal year for work performed by June 30.
    • Ensure contributions are paid at the contribution rate in effect at the time the money was earned.
    • Review your employer pickup plans and submit new documentation if needed.
  • The Pension Legislation section features answers to frequently asked questions and special publications under “Resources” related to payroll reporting and employer pickup plans.
  • An on-demand webinar about employer pickup plans is available.
Annual Financial Report Available

This year’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is available. The report provides details about STRS Ohio’s investment activities, plus financial, actuarial and statistical information for the 2015 fiscal year (July 1, 2014–June 30, 2015).

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