By MARTY LEVINE
Pitt employees who have dependent daycare accounts — a type of pre-tax savings account offered as a University benefit — will be happy to note they’ll be able to roll over funds they couldn’t spend in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Kozar, head of Human Resources’ benefits office, told the University Senate’s Benefits and Welfare Committee meeting Jan. 26 that users of these accounts -- who found the money they had saved for summer children’s programs, such as camps, useless as such facilities closed during the pandemic — got a break in December. That’s when the federal government, in its appropriations act, changed the rules to allow those with leftover funds from the July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 year to roll over this money into the next year as well as the year following, if needed.
The new rules also extended the funds’ use to 14-year-olds (up from age 13 previously) for the 2020-21 year only. Kozar said he expects to send a letter to Pitt employees explaining more details of the program next week.
Kozar also noted that his department is already planning to meet with their medical advisory committee to begin working toward an announcement of next year’s health care insurance and other benefits’ rates. Demand for insurance services was lowered last year thanks to social distancing strictures and other COVID cautions that kept people home and delayed doctor’s visits, but demand could be higher in the near future because of pent-up need, he said.
“I’m not expecting big increases whatsoever” in insurance premium rates, Kozar said. “They should remain pretty modest.”
He reported too that about 95 of the 150 Pitt union employees who were eligible for the early retirement program offered to them in early December chose to take advantage of it.
Committee Chair Luke Berenbrok, a School of Pharmacy faculty member, said that his committee would begin working with the Senate’s Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Discriminatory Advocacy Committee to advise Faculty Assembly about faculty needs for greater dependent care assistance, including child care.
Committee member Linda Tashbook, the foreign, international and comparative law librarian at the School of Law, mentioned a suggestion from Paul Munro from Faculty Assembly that the University give consideration to not scheduling Pitt faculty to teach during the school hours at which they would like to be home to help their young children with online learning.
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-758-4859.
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