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March 8, 2018

Staff Council Proposes New Policy for Paid Time Off for Approved Volunteering Activities

Staff Council is campaigning for the University to adopt a new policy that would allow staff to have paid time off for volunteer community service.

The policy proposal, submitted to the Office of Human Resources for consideration following unanimous approval at Staff Council’s Feb. 21 meeting, would offer full- and part-time staff the chance to participate in approved volunteering experiences during the work day without using other paid time off including personal and vacation days.

Regular classified full-time staff members would be eligible to request 15 hours off to volunteer per fiscal year (prorated for those who started their Pitt employment after July 1), while part-time staff members could request 7.5 hours per year.

Under Staff Council’s proposal, a staff member would seek their supervisor’s approval for such time off. Staff would be able to take part in University-sponsored volunteering opportunities or lend a hand to local nonprofits, under the proposal. Taking part in established University-wide volunteer activities, such as the United Way Day of Caring and Pitt Day in Harrisburg, for example, would not require use of the new policy.

As currently proposed, the Office of PittServes would act as the clearinghouse for volunteer activity scheduling and approvals for Pitt employees, just as it does today for Pitt students. The proposal — based on existing University rules and regulations, noted Alex Toner, Staff Council’s vice president of public relations — also calls for certain activities to be excluded from eligibility, such as participation in protests and rallies, political activities or causes that promote discrimination or advocate against the mission of the University.

Policy Now Under Review

The new policy Staff Council is advocating, said Toner at the meeting, “provides the University the opportunity to show its leadership among its peers.”

The proposal cites a list of corporations and colleges that offer a similar benefit to employees, and notes that building community strength is one of the University’s strategic priorities, which includes the aim to “foster a culture of civic engagement seeking to increase societal impact.” If adopted, the new policy would strengthen “the University’s commitment to fostering a supportive environment for staff to strike a healthy work-life balance,” the proposal concludes.

Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Cheryl Johnson said her office will be considering the proposal with an eye toward continuing to improve the University’s benefits offerings while “also balancing the need to be wise stewards of resources and mindful of operating expenses.”

Toner hoped that, should this policy be adopted, it would “establish the University as industry leader in employee wellness initiatives. While we acknowledge that the nuts and bolts proposed here may change, the spirit of the proposal is what we hope will drive this initiative forward.”


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859


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