Employer Reporting Presentation
Transcript of video:
Slide 1: Hello and welcome to the New Hampshire Retirement System employer reporting presentation.
Slide 2: During the presentation we'll start by going over important employer reporting terms; we'll talk about the data reporting system, or DRS, and go over how it works; tools you can access while using it; and reporting of active member data, where we'll go over the ins and outs of the entire process of reporting and remitting contributions. We'll go over retiree reporting, and we'll end with resources that are specific to employers.
Slide 3: As you know, each month employers send data to NHRS. This integrity of this data is crucial to our ability to administer retirement benefits.
NHRS requires this data to: Calculate and finalize retirement benefits; Process refunds; Prepare annual statements for members; Update member’s personal data in My Account; and determine actuarial liability and employer rates.
Slide 4: Since there are many terms associated with the Data Reporting System that you’ll see as we go through the presentation, we’ve added a slide dedicated to these terms. To quickly summarize: DRS – the Data Reporting System; File – A collection of data identified by a file name. This is what you send to NHRS each month; Batch – A file that contains wage and contribution data for active members; XML Schema – In simple terms, this is how your file is formatted if you submit via XML file; Validation Tool – A software application that allows employers to test whether their reporting XML file is properly formatted before they submit it. This application is available on NHRS.ORG. If you use this, it can help to identify some exceptions (if they are format-related) before you even submit the file; Edit – The “edit process” is what the file goes through after completing the validation process. It will identify any exceptions (or errors) found within the file that must be corrected; Exception – Like I just mentioned, an exception is an error found in a file. Exceptions must be corrected in order for the batch to “post,” or be accepted; Report – The DRS can generate various reports that provide information designed to help employers identify errors or validate information contained in the batches they’ve submitted to NHRS.
Slide 5: I’m sure most folks here are familiar with the DRS, but for those who may not be – the DRS is the online portal that employers use to submit their files to the retirement system. It’s separated into three modules: Employer Reporting – submit monthly wage and contribution data for active, full-time employees; Retiree Reporting – report annual hours worked and compensation paid to NHRS retirees on employer payroll (reporting is done annually); Insurance – used by employers and third-party administrators to update retiree insurance premiums and submit insurance authorizations.
You may see all of these modules when you log in, or only one. Employers only have access to the modules that they need. For example, you may not see the Insurance module if you have a TPA (third party administrator) who updates retiree insurance premiums for you.
Slide 6: Once logged into the DRS, employers will see this menu bar located on the left-hand side of the screen. We’re going to break it down and list the functions of each section of the menu bar, but we wanted to show you what it looks like as a whole beforehand to avoid any confusion.
Note: Anytime we say “members” in this presentation, we are referring to active, contributing members.
Slide 7: So, broken down by section, we have Member Reporting, Reports, Wage Correction, and Fund Options.
In the member reporting section, employers are able to: create, edit, submit, and delete monthly wage and contribution files; you can correct any exceptions that you may have; upload any needed files; and you can also verify the vesting status of members.
In the Reports section, all of the reports that you can run are listed. Depending on the specific report you run, they can help you to identify errors or validate information contained in the batches you’ve submitted to NHRS.
The Wage Correction section is where you can create wage correction input files, and upload files that may be required as the result of an employer audit finding. We’ve added this note on the slide to remind employers that they should not use this section without authorization by NHRS.
The last section is Fund Options. This is where you can change employers (if you do the reporting for multiple employers – this is usually the case with someone who reports for different schools in an SAU, for example. Again, you’ll only see the employers that you have access to). You can switch modules if authorized to use more than one; you can access DRS Help, change your password, and log out once finished using the DRS.
Slide 8: When completing your monthly reporting, files are due – free of errors – by the 15th of the following month. You don’t have to wait until the 15th – if you’re files are ready to submit, there is a 25-day early reporting window, so you can submit your files anytime within that window.
Currently, data can be submitted to NHRS via web entry, or by uploading XML, comma-delimited, or fixed-length files. Please note that NHRS is planning to phase out comma-delimited and fixed-length files in the future. As I mentioned, your reporting files are due at the 15th of the month. Your payments are due to NHRS by the 25th of the month. There are financial penalties for late or incorrect reporting or payments, which we’ll talk about more later on in the presentation.
Slide 9: This chart shows a very simplified version of the process a file goes through once it has been reported to NHRS:
On the employer side, the employer can validate the file ahead of time using the XML Validation Tool to check for formatting errors. If there are no errors, the employer will submit the file.
Crossing that wall into the NHRS side, the file will go through a validation process (file processing). This process will check for formatting errors in the file, as the XML Validation Tool would do. If there are no errors, the file will move on to the editing process.
This process will check for any exceptions within the file. If there are no errors found during the Edit process, the file will post (or be accepted).
If there are errors (exceptions), the employer is notified via email. Once exceptions have been cleared by the employer or NHRS, the file will post.
Note: A handful of employers aren’t able to download the XML Validation Tool. This is an issue that our IT department is aware of. NHRS can help employers validate their files if they are unable to download the Validation Tool.
Slide 10: File processing is done every three hours beginning at 9AM and ending at 6PM.
File edit is done every three hours beginning at 9:30AM and ending at 6:30PM.
If a file has exceptions, the employer will receive email notification until the exceptions are cleared.
Employers will also receive an email after posting is complete, which occurs every day at 9PM
Slide 11: When reporting by web entry, the employer will manually key their data into the DRS and submit the file. Again, the employer will receive email notification of their file contains any exceptions.
We like to recommend that employers have their DRS notifications sent to a group email address. This way multiple people will receive the notice.
Slide 12: When an employer reports by file upload, they extract their data file from their payroll system. They’ll submit it through the DRS, and again they will be notified by email if the file contains any exceptions or if the file is rejected.
Slide 13: If you consistently have errors in your file when the data is extracted from your payroll system, you may be using the wrong file schema. NHRS has the correct schema available on the Employer Resources page of our website. You can contact your payroll vendor or IT department to get the correct schema.
Slide 14: on this slide, we’ve added a screenshot of the XML schema validation too. If you report using XML files, you can download this tool on the Employer Resources page of the NHRS website.
By validating a file before uploading it to the DRS, an employer can address issues with the file proactively, saving time in the process (by being 3 hours ahead of schedule).
If there are no errors, the message will simply say “Valid,” and the file will be ready to submit.
Slide 15: When submitting a file, employers will click on “File Upload” in the Member Reporting section of the menu. You’ll then select which type of file you are submitting (comma delimited, fixed length, or XML). Then, use the “browse” button to find the file and click “Upload file”.
Slide 16: If you get a notification that your file has rejected, it means there were errors found during either file processing or file edits. There are many reasons why a file rejects. Some common exceptions are listed on the slide. If your file rejects, you can overwrite it by uploading a new, corrected file. Note: When either process (File Processing or Edits) is running, any edits the employer makes may not go through: resubmitting a file on the hour; fixing exceptions on the half-hour.
Slide 17: Here are some examples of some common exceptions and what they mean.
If you receive an exception titled “Threshold exceeded,” it means that 35% or more of the file contained exceptions.
“Bath Already Processed” means that the batch number being used has already been processed.
If you see “Invalid Data or Required Data is Missing,” it means that an employee within the file was missing information, such as a SSN for example. This exception is an example of one that would have been caught prior to submitting the file by using the validation tool.
Slide 18: “Reporting exceptions” are errors identified in a file during the DRS editing process. If you have any exceptions in your file, you will receive email notification from NHRS. If 35% or more of the total records in a file have errors, then the whole file will reject. NOTE: If you submit files by Web Entry, and the file rejects, you must delete the rejected file before you can submit a new one. The reason for that is so you can recover the batch number. Most exceptions should be cleared by the employer; but some must be cleared by NHRS. Files must also be posted, free of exceptions, by the 15th of the month in order to avoid penalty.
Slide 19: Here are examples of some common exceptions that employers can clear on their own, and ones that must be cleared by NHRS. Step-by-step instructions on how to clear some of the most common types of exceptions are available right on the Employer Resources page of our website.
Slide 20: If you receive an email that your file has exceptions, you can view the exceptions by logging into the Data Reporting System. In the menu bar on the left-hand side of your screen, you’ll see a button called “Correct Exceptions.” If you click on that, you’ll see a list of your exceptions. You’ll notice a blue ‘question mark’ to the right of each exception. If you hover over it with your mouse, it will give you an explanation of what the exception is.
Note: You’ll also notice that there is a “Delete” button on the left-hand side of the exception list. We want to make a note to tell you that this button is used very rarely. Some users have taken it to mean that you’re deleting an exception that you’ve cleared. That is NOT what this button means. If you click “delete,” you’d be deleting the member’s entire pay record. So we just wanted to make specific note of that. On most occasions, you won’t want to click that button.
Slide 21: We’ll go through a couple of brief examples on how to clear common exceptions. (Instructions for these and more are available on the NHRS website). The first one is the “Pay Period is Prior to Employment Date” exception. When you see this exception, it means that either: a new employee was paid for training before their official employment date; the date submitted on the enrollment form is incorrect; or, the employee began employment in the middle of a pay period. So what we would do if we saw this exception is click on the number in the “Pay Period” column that corresponds to the exception, and it will take us to the next screen.
Slide 22: Here, we can see important information to help us figure out why the exception occurred. We’ll look at the pay period’s Begin Date, End Date, and Pay Date. (Which are seen by the red arrows at the top of the screenshot), and the employee’s Hire Date, which is shown next to the arrows at the bottom. We can use this information to double-check if it matches our records for the correct enrollment date, if the member was paid for training prior to their official employment date, or if the member started in the middle of a pay period. Once we figure out why the exception occurred, we can clear it.
Slide 23: If it occurred because the new member was paid for training before their employment date, or because the employment date is incorrect, the employer must contact NHRS to have this exception cleared. If the new member began employment in the middle of a pay period, you can clear this exception by changing the pay period Begin Date to the employee’s Hire Date. You can then click save, return to the Exception List, and click the Member Corrected box; and that exception will clear.
Slide 24: The other exception example we have is for the Salary Variance Exceeded exception. This exception will occur if the wages reported for a member are significantly higher than what has been previously reported for them. By ‘significantly higher’, the system flags anything above 500%. This typically occurs as the result of a stipend, balloon check, etc. The employer would have to contact NHRS to have us clear this exception.
Slide 25: Once your batch is posted, the next step in the Reporting Process is to submit contribution payments to NHRS via payment voucher. There are reports available in the DRS to help ensure that the correct contribution amount is sent. The first report is the “Employer Account Activity Report”, which shows the total contributions based on the batch that posted. This amount should agree with what you expected to pay. If it doesn’t match what you expected, you can review two additional reports: the “Report Difference Report” and the “Employer Reconciliation Report.”
Slide 26: The Report Difference Report shows corrections that were made during the exception clearing process, and specifically shows what the original data looked like and what the data looks like now after clearing exceptions. This only shows changes made to wages and contributions.
Slide 27: And the Employer Reconciliation Report shows the batch broken down by pay period, by employee. This should match your payroll reports. If it doesn’t, please contact NHRS and we can take a look and update the member’s record and adjust the employer receivable accordingly.
Slide 28: Regarding draft settlements: if you are unsure whether a draft settlement qualifies as Earnable Compensation, you can send it to NHRS in advance for review, and NHRS will determine if contributions should be withheld. Please send it to Heather Fritzky, who is our Assistant Director of Finance. Please make sure you write “DRAFT SETTLEMENT” in the email subject line, and we also ask that you send it through secure email. To send secure emails, NHRS uses Zix email encryption. If you do not already use a secure email service, you can create a Zix account for free on our website. All you need to do is go to NHRS.org and if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you see a button called “Secure Message Center,” and then you’d follow the instructions from there.
Slide 29: To remit contributions, you will need to complete a payment voucher, which is accessed through the “Employer Reporting” module of the DRS. Once logged on, you’ll want to find the “Reports” section on the menu bar and select the “Reporting and Voucher Numbers” Report. The Report will pre-fill to the current NHRS Fiscal Year (which is July 1 to June 30). So be sure that you’re in the correct fiscal year. Then you will click “Run Report.”
Slide 30: Once the report opens, you’ll find the voucher number for the month being worked on at the bottom of the page. When you have the voucher number, you can close the report and then select “Payment Vouchers” in the menu. TIP: You can print a copy of this report to keep near your computer to have the Payment Voucher due dates more easily accessible.
Slide 31: Here is a screenshot from the DRS of a Payment Voucher. In the next few slides, we’ll go more in depth into each section, but this is what it looks like as a whole.
Slide 32: In the top section, it starts with “Fiscal Year”, and again, note that the Fiscal Year will pre-fill to the most current FY in the NHRS system. Next is “Report,” where we’ll select “Single Voucher.” For the “Voucher Number,” we’ll enter the voucher number that we got from the Reporting and Voucher Numbers report. For “Payment Method,” enter how your contributions are paid – so either write “check” or “ACH”. And for “Check Number,” you’ll enter the check number if you are paying my check. If you’re submitting payment by ACH, you’ll enter the date the ACH was put through.
Slide 33: The next section of the form is titled, “Member Contributions.” You’ll notice there are three columns, the first is titled “Contribution Type,” the second is “Plan” and the third is “Amount.” For “Contribution Type,” if you are entering regular contributions, you’ll type “Employee Current,” if you are entering additional contributions or additional annuity, you’ll type “Additional Contributions.” Under “Plan,” you’ll enter the plan type of the employee. This will either be Employee, Teacher, Police, or Fire. Please note that you will need to type one of those four that I just mentioned – we’ve had situations where employers have entered “Group II” or “Group II,” but it needs to be the specific plan type. And under “Amount,” you’ll enter the total member contributions for each plan. Note that the payment being remitted should match the contributions being reported in the file.
Slide 34: The next section is titled, “Employer Contributions.” You’ll notice that the three columns look the same as they did in the last section, except in this case the “Contribution Types” column is pre-filled with either “Pension Percentage” or “Medical Subsidy Percentage.” Under the “Plan” column, you’ll again enter the plan type for what you are reporting. Again, this will either be Employee, Teacher, Police, or Fire. Under “Amount,” you’ll enter the total amount of pension percentage, or the total amount of Medical Subsidy percentage, for the plan.
Slide 35: In the large screenshot, you may have noticed a section after “Employer Contributions” titled, “Payment Options.” You don’t need to fill anything in there, so we are going to skip over it to the last section, called “Other.” You’ll use this section if you need more space in the “Member Contributions” section. Any Group II members with 40+ years of service that no longer contribute should be reported in “Other” section. Once the voucher is completed, you’ll click “Run Report” to generate a printable PDF for your records. This report will open in a new tab, so once it has been printed or saved, you can return to the previous screen. Then you’ll click the “Email to Fund” box, and then click “Run Report” again, and that sends the report to NHRS. Please be sure to follow these instructions exactly and print the report first. Once it has been sent to NHRS via the “Email to Fund” box, it will disappear and cannot be recovered.
Slide 36: Contributions are due to NHRS by the 25th of the month. We recommend that all employers use Automated Clearing House (ACH) for sending payments to NHRS. In the future, NHRS plans to phase out Lockbox. NHRS has partnered with Citizens Bank to launch “NHRS QuickPay” – which is an online Bill Pay function that facilitates employer contributions by ACH at no cost to employers. Since this service launched in November, dozens of employers have taken advantage of it. We’ve listed some of the benefits of QuickPay: payments can be scheduled online and in advance; it’s safe, secure, convenient, and it’s free. If you want to learn more about QuickPay, or are interested in using it, this link will bring you to our website for more information.
Slide 37: If an employer submits their reporting late or inaccurately, or if contribution payments ate late, NHRS will assess a penalty. Penalties are assessed as interest on the amount due at the rate of one percent (1%) for each month (or fraction thereof) that the data or payment issues remain uncorrected. Employers may request an appeal for penalty assessments. The reason for the penalties is to: Prevent delays in finalizing pension benefits for new retirees and issuing requested refunds for terminated members.
Slide 38: For retiree reporting, employers must track hours worked and compensation paid to NHRS retirees and report it to NHRS on an annual basis. NHRS retirees are limited to working 1,352 hours per calendar year. Some retirees are Grandfathered into their position. If a retiree remains in the same exact part-time position they held on Jan. 1, 2019, they are allowed to work 1,664 hours in the calendar year. If they stop working in that position, any part-time position they hold afterwards would be subject to the 1,352 hours. Responsibility for reporting NHRS retirees falls with the current part-time employer. Retirees are technically responsible for keeping track of their hours, and they will lose the State Annuity portion of their pension for 12 months if the annual hourly limit is exceeded. There is no penalty for the employer if a retiree exceeds their annual hourly limit. We have an FAQ on our website all about part-time employment of NHRS retirees on our FAQ page. Note: If you realize you’ve made a mistake after completing your retiree reporting, you must contact NHRS.
Slide 39: There are two annual tasks that employers must complete when it comes to retiree reporting. The first is to report the retiree’s hours and compensation. The second is to review your list of Grandfathered retirees to verify that the retiree(s) on the list remain in the same position(s) they held on January 1, 2019. Employers with no retirees must report that they have no NHRS retirees in their employment. These annual tasks are both due by February 15th each year. There is also a late penalty imposed for retiree reporting, which is $25 for each late day. NHRS has created instructions on how to report NHRS retirees and how to verify the retirees on your Grandfathered list. These are available on our Employer Resources page.
Slide 40: NHRS is currently in the process of upgrading our pension administration system – Pension Gold – which is a multi-year project. We currently use Pension Gold version 2, but are working towards upgrading to version 3. This upgrade will include the DRS, and some reporting processes could change. This won’t happen anytime soon, as we’re projected to see these changes beginning in 2022. NHRS will provide employers with advanced notice and training once this takes place. If you’re interested, we’ve added a page to our website all about this upgrade project, and are posting updates there.