The University of Georgia will extend some benefits to domestic partners of employees so the benefits are closer to what married spouses receive, officials said Monday.
President Michael Adams is moving ahead to offer “soft benefits” such as dental and vision insurance to registered domestic partners of UGA employees. Employees will pay for these benefits, meaning UGA will not use any state funds to cover the expense.
It “will be an important addition” to what UGA offers, Adams said in a statement.
Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in a letter he saw no problem with UGA offering the voluntary benefits. Other colleges in the University System of Georgia already do this.
Huckaby’s letter was sent May 1 in response to a letter Adams sent months earlier seeking guidance.
Adams wanted to provide these benefits by the end of the fiscal year, June 30. That is also when he steps down as president.
There has long been discussion of offering these benefits. The movement gained traction in September when the University Council passed a resolution for UGA to provide money to offer voluntary benefits and health insurance to unmarried partners. The council is made up of faculty, administrators, students and staff who advise Adams on academics and other policy matters.
Adams also asked Huckaby about UGA developing and fully funding a health care benefits package for domestic partners. No state money would be used for it, Adams has said.
Huckaby said that to comply with current law and policy, such a program would have to be “truly private”: privately funded, insured, accounted for and administered. He suggested UGA work with its foundation to support that plan.
Given Huckaby’s guidance, it is not clear that UGA could fully fund a health care benefits package “in a way that would involve no state funds at all,” Adams said. “This matter will, unfortunately, require further study.”