Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Partnership Health Center on Tuesday received approval to change its retirement 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 adopted resolution to a 401A plan.

“The 457 plan allows employees to contribute to a retirement option that's available in addition to Montana's Public Employee Retirement System,” said Chris Lounsbury, the county's chief administrative officer. “But a 401A plan allows employers to contribute.”

Partnership Health Center this week was recognized by the Montana Department and Labor of Industry with its “Employer of Choice” award for 2022 in the large business category.

Partnership was praised for its efforts to reward and retain staff, and it currently offers a range of benefits to its 267 employees including free counseling, paid parental leave, paid vacation and a flexible spending account.

The county's approval of the 401A retirement option adds another perk.

“Where we see this being applicable is at our federally qualified health center where they're requesting some flexibility in different ways to compensate employees they may be recruiting for difficult professions in the medical sphere,” Lounsbury said.

Tuesday's approval pertains only to Partnership Health Center and not other county offices, at least for now.

“The county may use it later in filling difficult positions,” Lounsbury said. “Primarily, right now it's creation is at Partnership Health Center.”

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