UGA extends some benefits to domestic partners

The University of Georgia will extend some benefits to domestic partners of employees so those 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.

Other colleges in the University System of Georgia already offer this.

UGA’s offering comes after Chancellor Hank Huckaby wrote to Adams earlier this month to say he saw no problem with the voluntary benefits. Huckaby responded to a letter Adams sent in the fall seeking guidance.

Adams wanted to provide these benefits by the end of the fiscal, June 30. That is also when he steps down as president.

There has long been discussion of offering these benefits, and the movement gained traction in September when the University Council called on 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 said.

Huckaby said that to comply with current law and policy, the program would have to be “truly private.” It would need to be “privately funded, privately insured, privately accounted for and privately administered,” he wrote. He suggested UGA work with its foundation to support that plan.

As a result, that benefits options “will, unfortunately, require further study,” Adams said in a statement.

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