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March 20, 2008

SAC seeks re-employment policy restoration

The Staff Association Council (SAC) last week voted unanimously to request restoration of a pre-2007 policy covering re-employment after involuntary separation from the University.

Prior to the change, a University staff member who was involuntarily separated from Pitt could carry over accrued employee benefits in the event the individual was re-hired within 12 months. In February 2007, that timeframe was reduced to 180 days.

SAC’s proposal to rescind the change, which was developed by its benefits committee, will be forwarded to the Human Resources Benefits office, said President Rich Colwell at the March 12 meeting.

The proposal states, in part: “We request the guidelines for the grace period to retain service credit toward benefits after re-employment for those who have been involuntarily separated be changed back to 365 calendar days.”

The guidelines, which are contained in the Staff Handbook, apply to those who have been separated involuntarily from the University due to position elimination or inability to return to work while on approved disability leave.

According to SAC’s proposal, justifications for reverting to the prior guidelines include: It would be a competitive advantage in attracting new employees to make guidelines for re-employment less restrictive; the 2007 change to the guidelines “denigrates the value of employment by the University,” and the changes were made without SAC’s review.

The proposal further states that “the Staff Association Council also requests that in the future all changes to the Staff Handbook or any guidelines or procedural changes be done in an open, professional manner following University shared governance guidelines with respect to the staff of the University.”

In other SAC developments:

• SAC’s spring assembly, “Staff Mentoring and Career Development,” is scheduled for April 9, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room. The assembly is co-sponsored by SAC and the University Senate ad hoc committee on gender equity. It will feature focus groups and a panel of staff members sharing their own experiences with career advancement.

The assembly replaces SAC’s regular monthly meeting.

• Sherry Shrum of the benefits committee said her group is looking into re-designing its web site to add links to more benefits and health-related information.

• SAC’s salary and job classification committee has sent its annual letter to Human Resources with recommendations for fiscal year 2009 salary pool increases. SAC does not reveal its recommendations until the chancellor announces his salary pool decisions, which usually occurs in July.

• Colwell reviewed recent federally mandated changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which now incorporates provisions for members of the military and their families. For more information, contact Employee Relations, 4-4645.

—Peter Hart

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