Upon approval, Partnership Health Center will offer employees a new retirement option

Current Martin Kidston/Missoula

The Partnership Health Center received approval on Tuesday to amend its pension plan, allowing the employer to contribute to an employee’s retirement account.

Missoula County’s current plan, coded by the Internal Revenue Service as a 457 plan, will be expanded under the passed resolution to a 401A plan.

“The 457 plan allows employees to contribute to a retirement option available in addition to Montana’s public employee retirement system,” said county chief administrative officer Chris Lounsbury. “But a 401A plan allows employers to contribute.”

This week, Partnership Health Center was recognized by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry with its 2022 “Employer of Choice” award in the Large Business category.

The partnership has been hailed for its efforts to reward and retain staff, and it currently offers a range of benefits to its 267 employees, including free advice, paid parental leave, paid time off and a flexible spending account.

The county’s approval of the 401A retirement option adds another benefit.

“Where we see this apply is in our federally qualified health center where they are asking for flexibility in different ways to compensate employees they can recruit for difficult occupations in the medical field,” Lounsbury said.

Tuesday’s approval only affects the Partnership Health Center and not other county offices, at least for now.

“The county can use it later to fill difficult positions,” Lounsbury said. “Primarily, right now, his creation is at the Partnership Health Center.”

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