Office of Human Resources Announces New Policies

The University of Pittsburgh and Office of Human Resources have created a number of new initiatives to provide the most flexibility, stability and resources possible for employees during this COVID-19 period of emergency.

These temporary programs and policies are designed to meet the complex challenges employees face while continuing as smoothly as possible with the University’s critical operations and responsibilities.

Below is information on announcements made this week, as well as some important reminders.

Please contact the Office of Human Resources or your supervisor or director of administration with any questions you might have.

Vacation earning cap lifted

To afford staff greater flexibility in the use of vacation time, the Office of Human Resources (OHR) is temporarily lifting the cap on vacation accruals. Retroactive to April 1, 2020, the vacation accrual cap is lifted for all non-represented staff. Eligible staff may accrue vacation time at standard rates beyond the cap until November 30, 2020. Questions about the policy can be directed to OHR by submitting a request via the online OHR web form.

Voluntary reduction in effort offered

Effective May 1, 2020, eligible employees—all full-time exempt and non-exempt staff, except for staff covered by a collective bargaining agreement—have the option to request a reduction in working hours with a corresponding reduction in salary for family care or other personal or family needs. Information on how to request the voluntary reduction of effort is available at the OHR website.

Sick Day Bank created

Employees may make a one-time donation to or request additional sick time from a Temporary Voluntary Sick Day Bank. Those who are in need of additional sick time, or those who would like to donate sick time from their own personal accrued balance, can submit a request to do so and/or read more about the policy for full details.

Termination of flexible spending accounts allowed

The Benefits Department is temporarily allowing the termination of Health Care, Dependent Care, Parking and Mass Transit Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) due to closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Review the OHR announcement on FSA termination to learn how to terminate your elections for FSAs.

CARES Act effects on retirement plan explained

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by the president on March 27, 2020, provides options for participants in the University’s retirement savings plan to consider as they navigate financial decisions in the coming months.

The University of Pittsburgh has chosen to adopt the following CARES Act provisions:

  • Penalties and mandatory withholding are waived for qualified distributions from 403(b) Plan and 457(b) Plan accounts through December 31, 2020.
  • 403(b) Retirement Plan loan limits increased from $50,000 to $100,000, with a maximum of three loans until September 23, 2020. Any outstanding loan payments from now until the end of the year may also be deferred for 12 months.
  • Optional suspension of required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2020.

To review your current situation, contact a TIAA financial at 800-682-9139 or register for a virtual one-on-one session with a TIAA consultant.

To learn more and review further details, visit the CARES Act announcement on OHR’s website.

Employee hiring temporarily suspended 

To help maintain stability for the University and its current employees, the University is temporarily suspending all hiring of staff, All-Temps employees and student workers.

The suspension is effective April 17, 2020, until further notice, following a slow-down in hiring that began with the emergency period last month.

In light of these extenuating circumstances, there may be exceptions to this hiring freeze for essential personnel and operationally critical individuals.

COVID-19 reporting guidance for supervisors provided

The University reminds supervisors that guidance is available should an employee—whether working remotely or on campus—have a positive COVID-19 test result or exhibits symptoms. As always, the University must ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and prioritize patient privacy. Additional guidance for supervisors is available from the Office of Human Resources and on the emergency management website.

More resources

Visit the Office of Human Resources COVID-19 faculty and staff information site and the University’s COVID-19 Response site to find additional resources on Pitt’s overall operations and updated news announcements during this emergency period as well as answers to frequently asked questions.