By SUSAN JONES
Pitt will send letters out by July 15 to the 840 staff members who will be eligible for an early retirement package.
The package will include six months of salary and immediate access to full retirement benefits regardless of age. It is available to any staff member 59 or older as of May 1, 2020, with 10 years of continuous service as a full-time regular employee. Part-time regular staff 59 and older who've had 10 years of continuous service and were hired before July 1, 2004, also are eligible under a grandfather clause.
In addition, spouses or eligible domestic partners of staff are eligible without regard to their age for retiree medical benefits at no cost up to age 65. Dependent children will be covered at no cost until age 26.
Anyone interested in the package must decide and let Human Resource know by July 31 and their last day at work will be Sept. 30. If staff submitted their letter of retirement on or after June 15 — the date the program was announced — they are eligible for early retirement package. They can contact Human Resources to determine next steps.
Faculty 65 and older in all but the Schools of Medicine and Nursing were offered a similar package on June 15 and have until July 1 to respond. (See related story.)
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said at the June 11 Senate Council meeting that the retirement incentives for faculty and staff were part of the effort to offset significant costs related to Pitt’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
David DeJong, vice chancellor for Human Resources, said this retirement plan is part of a broader package for staff to “build resiliency in their own personal response to the pandemic.” Other initiatives in that package include the increased sick bank, voluntary effort reduction for staff and emphasizing flexibility from supervisors to support remote work, he said.
One thing that hasn’t been decided yet is how the six months of salary will be paid, as a lump sum or in installments.
Because the University continues to be under a “controlled hiring protocol,” DeJong said that replacing those who decide to take the retirement package would require strict approval. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in an interview after the Board of Trustees meeting that any volunteer plan like this runs the risk of getting too many takers. "You're going to have to refill some portion of those positions, so that's built into the plan."
Pitt last offered a voluntary early retirement package to 652 classified staff in 2012, which was driven by deep decreases in support from the state under Gov. Tom Corbett. Of those eligible, 52 percent accepted the package. The package and eligibility were the same as what is being offered this year, and the six months of base pay was delivered in a lump sum payment.
Those with questions about the early retirement program are urged to contact the Office of Human Resources.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-648-4294.
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