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What is an RBW?

When an individual retires from the University System of Georgia (USG) and is receiving benefits from the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) or the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), they are referred to as Retired-but-Working (RBW). These individuals are used to temporarily bridge transitions and provide valuable knowledge to perform specific duties where no succession plan was in place.

Philosophy

For defined business purposes, Georgia Tech has historically allowed some retirees to return to work. These RBW employees continue to be a valuable source of knowledge for historical practices, processes, and procedures. As such, RBWs are primarily authorized for succession implementation, completion of a significant project, or a specific short-term assignment. The RBW program is carefully monitored to ensure this classification is an efficient use of resources.

Requirements

Reemployed USG retirees must meet all the following conditions:

  1. They must be approved by the hiring institution’s President or his designees. Hiring units must submit an RBW approval request to the Office of Faculty Affairs (faculty) or Human Resources (staff). The format for the request is outlined later.

  2. They must have a minimum break in service of at least one calendar month between the effective date of their retirement and the effective date of their reemployment, e.g.,
    1. Jill retires Jan. 1. She may begin as early as Feb. 1.
    2. Jack retires Jan. 3. He may begin as early as March 1.

  3. Their work commitment must be less than half-time, maximum of 49% of full time for the position, typically 19 hours.

  4. Their compensation must meet one of these requirements as defined by Georgia law. The statute is: O.C.G.A. § 47-3-127. Georgia law restricts a retiree’s earnable compensation to a maximum of 49% of compensation based on the salary earned at retirement* or the average high salary used to calculate the retiree’s benefit. Although a retiree may change positions at rehire the salary limitation is still applicable.

  5. The compensation must be commensurate with the position hired into. If the position is a lower compensated position than the position retired from, the compensation should be lower than if the retiree was returning to a similar paid position to the retirement position.

*The retirement salary calculation is based on the average of the last 12 months of compensation earned.

Process for Department

Phase I | Assessment

Prior to submitting an RBW request, complete an assessment to verify the need for a retiree in the position and the need for the specific retiree you are requesting. (This assessment is not for submission but will create the framework for your request.) Justifications include:

  • The position and this retiree are needed to assist with a short-term transition of duties and job knowledge.
  • The position and this retiree are needed to assist with the completion of a project with a specific timeline that requires the skills and knowledge of this retiree.
  • The position and this retiree are needed to fill a temporary or seasonal need that does not require a permanent employee.
  • We have been unable to find a replacement employee with the requisite skills or knowledge after documented attempts to do so.
  • The funding for a project is contingent on retaining the retiree for a specific approval period.

Phase II | Submission

  1. HR Business Partner/Representative (HR BP/Rep) completes the Request for Approval of Staff RBW letter request, which must be submitted to Retirement Program Manager james.wallace@ohr.gatech.edu at least 10 days prior to the requested start date.

  2. The hiring manager also submits a signed TRS or ORP form (PDF format) to the Retirement Program Manager with the approval request. No approval action can be taken without the retirement plan form.

Phase III | Review Process

  1. GTHR reviews the Request for Approval for adherence to USG and GT RBW policy and submits it to the AVP-CHRO via DocuSign for consideration of supporting the request.

  2. If the AVP supports and signs the request, it is sent via DocuSign to the appropriate approver in the President’s Office for final consideration. Depending on the reporting structure that would be the President, for units reporting directly to him, or the EVP of units that report directly to them:

    Provost and EVP Academic Affairs
    EVP Research
    EVP Administration and Finance

  3. The hiring manager will be notified of an approval via receipt of a copy of the DocuSign letter. If the EVP or President does not approve, they will follow up with the hiring unit.

Phase IV | Final Documentation (once approved)

  1. Hiring manager sends the Memorandum of Understanding for RBW Assignment form to the RBW for their signature, agreeing to the duration, compensation, duties, and policy of their employment.
  2. HR BP/Rep submits the appropriate system hiring transaction and lists GTHR’s Retirement Program Manager as the final approver for Staff RBWs
  3. GTHR approves the hire transaction:
    1. For TRS participants, enters RBW data into TRS system and sends all documents to records for filing
    2. For ORP participants, sends all documents to records for filing

Phase V | Annual Review

If initial approval exceeds one fiscal year, HR BP/Rep completes the Annual Review & Attestation of RBW Employment with the RBW and submits it by July 1.


Contact

All questions concerning the RBW process and staff submissions should be submitted to:
GTHR Retirement Program Manager — james.wallace@ohr.gatech.edu

All Academic and Research Faculty requests are to be sent via GT-TRACs for approval consideration.

For faculty approval questions, please contact
David Babburowski — david.bamburowski@provost.gatech.edu


Forms

  1. Request for Approval of Staff RBW

    We have created a template to for your use. This template includes all data required for review. Finalize and send as a PDF.
    Download

  2. Annual Review & Attestation of RBW Employment

    All RBWs must have a retirement verification filed July 1 of each year of a multiple year appointment. Additionally, a brief statement that the work of the retiree has been reviewed and the work has been satisfactory or unsatisfactory is required. The verification must also state whether the position is still needed, or no longer needed, for the reminder of the approved period.


  3. Memorandum of Understanding for RBW Assignment

    Template for department use — send to GTHR for file inclusion.
    Download

Additional Notes & Reminders

  1. Offers for RBW employment should only occur after an employee has retired.
  2. RBW letters cannot be submitted until the employee retires. This is for both TRS and ORP participants.
  3. As part of the policy, one FY duration appointment, or shorter is normal. An approval request cannot be longer than two years. Currently there is no limit on how many appointments a retiree may receive.
  4. No RBW requests should be submitted to backdate an approval.
  5. If the time worked percentage changes, a new system entry is required to update the RBW retiree’s record.
  6. Tech Temp positions are not open to State and USG retirees. As such, they are not open to RBW candidates.
  7. An RBW employee’s work commitment must be less than half-time, maximum of 49% of the full-time work commitment.
  8. An RBW employee’s earnable compensation is limited to a maximum of 49% based on the salary earned at retirement* or the average high salary used to calculate the retiree’s benefit.
  9. An RBW is not eligible for any increases or extra compensation. The RBW approval letter sets the compensation and time worked per pay period for the position and no additional pay can be earned or extra time worked. Time worked cannot be toggled from one pay period to the next.
*The retirement salary calculation is based on the average of the last 12 months of compensation earned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an RBW be appointed to a department different from the one they last worked for?

Yes. A retiree can work for any department in which their skills and experience are appropriate for the position.

Has the USG RBW policy changed?

Yes. The University System office and Georgia Tech work regularly to clarify interpretation and compliance with numerous policies. Recently a change was made due to a reinterpretation of the Georgia law regarding compensation for a retiree.

Can a manager approach a retiring employee about becoming an RBW when they retire OR a retiring employee approach their manager about a potential RBW appointment?

There can be no specific agreement between a retiring employee and their manager concerning returning to work while the employee is still working for Georgia Tech. However, it is acceptable for an employee or manager to indicate they may have some interest in the RBW program.

We recommend the following language:

  • From a manager to a retiring employee: “We may need some assistance given your retirement. Would you be interested in discussing this after you retire?”
  • From the retiring employee to the manager: “I would consider returning on a part-time basis if that opportunity were ever available.”

If both parties are interested, consider asking to meet a week after retirement. At that time, you may discuss RBW specifics in detail.

If an RBW employee is working an approved assignment, may they pick up an unrelated teaching assignment and be paid extra compensation for their teaching work?

No. RBW’s are not allowed to earn extra compensation.

Can a retiree be hired as an RBW even if they’ve been retired five years?

Yes. There is no restriction on how long the employee has been retired.

Is the time an RBW employee works each month flexible? I.e., can they work more hours one month and less the following if it averages out to the original assignment?

No. This action is against USG policy. Each pay period stands alone and at no point may the total exceed 49% for time and compensation.

Is an RBW required to work 49%; are less hours permittable?

There is no requirement to work the maximum of 49%.

If an employee works two RBW assignments, are they paid the same rate for both?

Not necessarily. Each assignment is distinct from any other. However, the time worked, and compensation earned, must be combined and the total can’t exceed the policy maximums.

Who may be contacted for questions about the policy?

GTHR Retirement Program Manager — james.wallace@ohr.gatech.edu