Optional members are not required to join NYSLRS. However, you must inform employees of their right to membership at the time of their initial employment.
Beginning July 27, 1976, ERS membership is optional for:
- Temporary or provisional positions (under Civil Service Law);
- Employment of less than 30 hours per week, or less than the standard number of hours for full-time employment as established by the employer for this position;
- Duration of employment for less than one year, or employment of less than a 12-month per year basis; or
- Annual compensation less than the New York State’s minimum wage multiplied by 2,000 hours.
Before July 27, 1976, ERS membership was optional for jobs with:
- Exempt or labor classification; or
- Competitive classification where the member is appointed temporarily or provisionally.
PFRS membership is mandatory. Both full-time and part-time paid police officers and paid firefighters must join NYSLRS.
If an optional member chooses to join, membership is not automatic. You must enroll the member and the date of membership will be the date the membership application is received by NYSLRS, as long as it is received on or after the hire date.
If membership is optional but the employee is already an active ERS member, they are a mandatory member and must be enrolled and reported to us for all their public employment, including work with more than one participating employer.
All employees of the State or of a participating employer, who are not mandatory members of NYSLRS, have the right to join (Section 45 of the Retirement and Social Security Law). The privilege of membership cannot be withheld by an employer. Employers must, at the time of hiring, inform new employees in writing of the right to membership.
The law also requires that each employee acknowledge having been given such notice by signing an acknowledgment and filing it with the employer. Here is a sample acknowledgement of right to membership that you may use. Employers must keep these documents on file at their organization – you do not need to submit the documentation to NYSLRS.
If you are using a Section 45 document that provides two options (yes, they want to join or no, they don’t), and the member chooses to join, the Section 45 document cannot be submitted to NYSLRS instead of a signed membership application.
If an individual is already a member of NYSLRS, they cannot decline to have their subsequent employment added to their membership.
Note: If an employee joins NYSLRS, they can only end their membership by leaving public employment for at least 15 days, and only if they have less than ten years of service credit.