Section 12-17-4

State assumption of retirement and other employee benefits.

(a) Retirement. - Employees of the circuit and district court, hereinafter "eligible employees," shall, on the date they join or joined the state personnel system, be covered by the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama; provided, that an employee who on that date is covered by a local retirement system may by written notice filed within 30 days prior to the date the employee joins the state personnel system, with the Comptroller, elect to retain instead membership in the local retirement plan; provided further, that any employee joining the state personnel system on or before October 1, 1977, shall have the right to make such election within 30 days prior to October 1, 1977. Upon election of an employee, the Comptroller shall pay to such local government plans the employer retirement contribution attributable to employees electing to retain local plan membership; provided, that such employer contribution paid by the state to such local retirement plan shall not exceed the employer contribution paid by the state for eligible members transferring to the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama. The previous local employer shall pay into such local plan any additional amounts necessary to fund said benefits.

(b) Prior service benefits.

(1) BENEFITS FOR ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES UNDER LOCAL PLANS. - Eligible employees who have participated in retirement programs with units of local government whether or not such local programs have utilized the state employees' retirement plan to administer the funding of such plans shall receive credit for prior service for which they have been given credit under the local retirement programs. When an eligible employee joins the Employees' Retirement System, the total of all employer and employee contributions plus any other amounts, including, but not limited to, interest attributable to the account of such employee to which he would have had the right to receive upon withdrawal from the local retirement program, shall be transferred immediately into the State Employees' Retirement Fund on account of such employee under the same rules and regulations applicable to other members of the State Employees' Retirement System on the date the employee joins the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama. Any contributions represented by annuities purchased by or through the previous employer on account of the employment therewith of any eligible employee and for his individual benefit shall be immediately cashed out and the proceeds transferred along with any other regular contributions to the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama.

(2) BENEFITS FOR ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES COVERED BY UNFUNDED LOCAL RETIREMENT PROGRAMS OR EMPLOYEES NOT PREVIOUSLY COVERED BY RETIREMENT PLANS. - Eligible employees who have participated in unfunded local retirement programs or who have not participated in retirement programs with units of local government shall be granted prior service credit by the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama, based on length of previous court employment, to a maximum of five years. The secretary-treasurer of the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama shall authorize and direct the Comptroller to pay the cost of granting such prior service credit in such amounts as determined to be necessary, and the Comptroller shall pay such amounts as necessary for both employer and employee contributions into the Employees' Retirement Fund on account of such eligible employee under the same rules and regulations applicable to other members of the Employees' Retirement System. In addition to the five-year prior service credit described above, any eligible employee may purchase prior service credit, not to exceed actual years served, by direct payment to the Employees' Retirement System, within 90 days after October 1, 1977, in such amount as determined to be necessary by the Employees' Retirement System for the prior service credit desired.

(3) Eligible employees who participated in retirement programs with units of local government for less than one year preceding October 1, 1977, whether or not such local programs utilized the state employees' retirement plan to administer the funding of such plans shall be granted prior service credit by the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama, based on length of previous court employment, to a maximum of five years. When an eligible employee joins the Employees' Retirement System, the total of all employer and employee contributions plus any other amounts, including, but not limited to, interest attributable to the account of such employee to which he would have had the right to receive upon withdrawal from the local retirement program, shall be transferred immediately into the State Employees' Retirement Fund on account of such employee under the same rules and regulations applicable to other members of the State Employees' Retirement System on the date the employee joins the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama. Any contributions represented by annuities purchased by or through the previous employer on account of the employment therewith of any eligible employee and for his individual benefit shall be immediately cashed out and the proceeds transferred along with any other regular contributions to the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama. The secretary-treasurer of the Employees' Retirement System of Alabama shall authorize and direct the Comptroller to pay the cost of granting such prior service credit in such amounts as determined to be necessary, and the Comptroller shall pay such amounts as necessary for both employer and employee contributions into the Employees' Retirement Fund on account of such eligible employee under the same rules and regulations applicable to other members of the Employees' Retirement System. In addition to the five-year prior service credit described above, any eligible employee may purchase prior service credit, not to exceed actual years served, by direct payment to the Employees' Retirement System, within 360 days after January 1, 1990, in such amount as determined to be necessary by the Employees' Retirement System for the prior service credit desired.

(c) Other benefits. - The Administrative Office of Courts shall, after consultation with the state and local personnel systems, adjust benefits other than retirement of court personnel joining the state personnel system, including clerks, registers and judges. Such adjustment shall be made as of the date upon which the employee joined or joins the state personnel system and shall assure continuation of existing employee benefits at the same rates and amounts as were in effect for such employees on August 1, 1975; provided, that the Administrative Director of Courts may, in his or her discretion, adjust or increase such benefits to allow for normal incremental increases or additions to such benefits received by court employees on or after August 1, 1975, whether such employees were hired by the unit of local government before, on or after August 1, 1975. The Administrative Director of Courts shall thereafter make such future adjustments as are necessary to maintain such rates and amounts of benefits as were in effect for such employees on August 1, 1975. For court personnel employed after August 1, 1975, but before the date upon which court employees in his or her unit of local government join the state personnel system, including clerks, registers and judges, benefits under this section shall be established at such levels as were in effect for employees similarly situated on August 1, 1975, or, if such employee was employed in a new position not existing on August 1, 1975, benefits for such employee shall be established at such levels as the Administrative Director of Courts in his or her discretion determines to be appropriate based upon benefit levels which were in effect on August 1, 1975, for similar classes of employees. Subsequent to the establishment of such benefits and the employer costs thereof, the Administrative Director of Courts shall determine the method of administering the fringe benefits for such employees through the local government units for whom such employees were employed prior to state assumption or through the state fringe benefit programs. If the Administrative Director of Courts determines that it is impractical or unfeasible to administer the benefits for such employees through the state fringe benefit program, the local government units for whom such employees were employed prior to state assumption shall retain such employees in their fringe benefit programs; provided, that the Administrative Director of Courts shall in such instances establish reimbursement procedures for the payment of the employer costs to such local government units. The Comptroller shall, subsequent to the establishment of such benefits and the employer costs thereof and at anytime it may be necessary to establish or adjust such benefits, pay the employer contributions as established by the Administrative Director of Courts.

(Acts 1975, No. 1205, p. 2384, §7-106; Acts 1977, No. 695, p. 1229; Acts 1990, No. 90-634, p. 1161, §1.)