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University of Houston - Victoria

Office of the Vice President for
Administration and Finance

SECTION: PERSONNEL INDEX: C-1
SUBJECT: LEAVES OF ABSENCE

POLICY

The University of Houston-Victoria provides holidays, vacation, sick leave, and other leave benefits granted by the State of Texas to regular university employees under provisions of the State General Appropriations Act, federal law and related statutes. Leave benefits may be with or without pay, based on certain qualifying conditions. Eligible employees are entitled to request and be considered for leaves described in this policy. This policy applies to all regular, benefits-eligible employees, regardless of the source of funds from which paid. Where there are exceptions in eligibility, those differences are noted.

All leaves must be requested and approved in accordance with this policy. The leave must be approved by the employee’s supervisor (or designee), unless a requirement for higher approval is noted.

No policy or procedure shall be used to discriminate against any individual or group because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status, or genetic information. Additionally, discrimination in any aspect of employment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is prohibited.

DEFINITIONS

Regular employee: A university employee who is appointed for at least 20 hours per week on a regular basis for a period of at least 4-1/2 months, excluding students employed in positions that require student status as a condition of employment

University Fiscal Year: The 12 month period beginning September 1 and extending through the following August 31.

Leave Requests and Absence Requests: Forms used by employees to request leave. A leave request is the hard copy form used by employees until the transition to electronic absence requests through PASS (employee self-service) is implemented. As the transition progresses, the use of hard copy leave request forms will be phased out.

PROCEDURES

GENERAL PROVISIONS

  1. All leave must be approved by the employee’s supervisor (or designee), unless approval by a higher authority is a requirement.

  2. One leave period may involve several types of leave; i.e. sick leave, family and medical leave, extended sick leave, vacation, etc. In such cases, each type leave involved must be requested according to the procedure for that leave and reported accordingly.

  3. The date of return to work shall be specified when the leave is requested; or, if the return date is not known, the employee must contact the supervisor (or HR designee) regularly, in accordance with the procedure for that leave.

  4. The employee must report to the supervisor (or designee) if he or she will be unable to return to work at the end of the leave period and must provide an acceptable reason for the delay. Failure to return to work from an approved leave of absence by the intended date and to provide an acceptable reason will be considered abandonment by the employee of the job. (References)

  5. Records of leave accrued and taken are maintained in the University of Houston payroll system. Departmental administrators are required to verify that all requests are approved by department supervisors in accordance with published payroll deadlines and are responsible for reviewing to ensure requested absences do not exceed available leave balances.

  6. Time away from the workplace on the university's behalf and/or approved as time worked shall not be considered as leave.

  7. If a full time exempt employee does not work 40 hours in the workweek, absences must be recorded either as vacation, sick leave or other appropriate leave to comply with State law.

Requesting and Reporting Leaves of Absence

Monthly Exempt Employees

Leave requests for monthly exempt employees are requested and submitted electronically through the Time Reporting Module in PASS (employee self-service) using the electronic Absence Request form. The leave must be requested and approved by the supervisor (or designee) in advance of the leave date:

  1. The employee completes and submits an Absence Request, providing the beginning and ending dates, selecting the type of leave desired and providing an explanatory comment as appropriate.

  2. The Supervisor is notified automatically by email when an employee Absence Request has been submitted. (The employee will also receive an automatic notification that a request has been sent.)

  3. The Supervisor can approve, deny or return the request for additional information.

  4. An email notification is then generated automatically when the Supervisor has responded to the Absence Request.

Electronic submission of a separate Absence Request is required for each type of leave.

Bi-Weekly Non-Exempt Employees

A University of Houston-Victoria Leave Request Form (References) must be used to request leave. The leave must be requested and approved by the supervisor (or designee) in advance of the leave date. Different types of leave may be combined on the same form:

  1. The form may be completed manually or online but must be printed out, signed by the employee and submitted to the employee’s supervisor for approval along with any required documentation attached.

  2. Upon approval, a signed copy shall be returned in a timely manner to the employee.

  3. Any adjustment to or disapproval of the leave request shall be adequately explained.

  4. At the end of the bi-weekly pay period, a copy of the signed original Leave Request Form shall be attached to the employee’s timesheet and forwarded to the Human Resources Office.

Leaves of Absence with Pay

The following types of leave are provided to the employee at full pay and do not affect state service credit, university benefits, or leave accruals, except where noted.

  1. Holidays: The state authorizes the number of annual holidays available to regular employees and provides that institutions of higher education may adjust the holiday schedule to accommodate the academic calendar. The University of Houston-Victoria holiday calendar is approved annually by the Board of Regents and includes most national holidays and an extended winter holiday break.

  2. Eligible employees who are required to work on a scheduled holiday are entitled to equivalent time off with pay to be taken during the following 12-month period. Employees may be paid for holiday compensatory time hours earned on a straight time basis when the supervisor (or designee) determines that allowing the employee to take compensatory time off would be disruptive to normal teaching, research or other critical functions.

    Holidays are not requested and are not reported by exempt employees on their timesheet. Non-exempt, biweekly employees report an "H" on their timesheet on the holiday, but do not indicate an earnings code or hours for that day. The payroll system will automatically calculate holiday pay.

  3. Vacation: Regular staff employees and administrative faculty on 12-month appointments are entitled to paid vacation time in each fiscal year. Vacation entitlement is earned according to the schedule established in the biennial General Appropriations Act (outlined below), proportionate to the FTE established for the position in which the individual is employed. Faculty, other than those on 12-month appointments, are not eligible for vacation. Full-time employees earn vacation hours according to the following schedule:

  4. Maximum Hours to Be

    Carried Forward - One

    Fiscal Year to the Next

    Length of Total

    State Employment

    Hours

    Accrued

    Less than 2 years

    8

    180

    2 but less than 5 years

    9

    244

    5 but less than 10 years

    10

    268

    10 but less than 15 years

    11

    292

    15 but less than 20 years

    13

    340

    20 years but less than 25

    15

    388

    25 years but less than 30

    17

    436

    30 years but less than 35

    19

    484

    35 years or more

    21

    532

    The net balance of unused accumulated leave, not to exceed the maximum cited above, may be carried forward for any employee from one fiscal year to the next fiscal year. Any excess hours over the maximum cited above will automatically be credited to the employee's sick leave balance.

    Although vacation hours are earned beginning on the first day of employment, employees are not eligible to take vacation until they have completed six months of continuous employment with the state of Texas. Employees should submit their request to their supervisor (or designee) for approval and are encouraged to select the dates they wish to take vacation as far in advance as possible. Vacation will be granted as requested, provided the work schedule of the department permits.

    An employee who is on paid leave on the first workday of a month may not take vacation leave accrued for that month until the employee has returned to duty.

    In computing vacation time taken, time during which any employee is excused from work because of holidays or officially granted administrative leave shall not be charged against the employee's vacation.

    Employees terminating state employment after at least six months of continuous employment will be paid for the accrued vacation balance provided they do not return to employment with a state of Texas agency within 30 days of their separation date. An employee transferring directly from one state agency to another is entitled to credit by the agency to which the employee transfers for the unused balance of the employee’s vacation leave, if employment between the state agencies is uninterrupted.

    A terminating employee may be allowed to remain on payroll to utilize accrued vacation in lieu of being paid in a lump sum. The supervisor (or designee) must approve the request.

  5. Sick leave: All regular employees are entitled to paid sick leave beginning on the first day of employment. Sick leave is earned at the rate of eight hours for each month or fraction of a month of employment, proportionate to the FTE established for the position(s) in which employed. Unused sick leave is carried forward each month and may be accumulated indefinitely.

  6. Sick leave may be used when personal sickness, injury, or pregnancy and confinement prevent the employee’s performance of work responsibilities; for medical and dental appointments; or when the employee is needed to care for a member of his or her immediate family who is ill with a documented medical condition.

    Leave for medical appointments or elective procedures must be requested ahead of time and scheduled to accommodate work requirements whenever possible.

    When the employee if unable to work because of illness, he or she should contact the supervisor (or designee) at the earliest practical time and a leave request submitted promptly upon return. A medical absence of more than three working days requires a written statement from the employee’s health care provider indicating the cause or nature of the illness or other acceptable statement of the facts concerning the illness.

    For the purposes of regular sick leave, immediate family is defined as those individuals who reside in the same household and are related by kinship, adoption, or marriage, as well as foster children certified by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. Minor children of the employee, whether or not living in the same household, will be considered immediate family for purposes of regular sick leave. An employee's use of sick leave for family members not residing in that employee’s household is strictly limited to the time necessary to provide care and assistance to a spouse, child, or parent of the employee who needs such care and assistance as a direct result of a documented medical condition. For the purpose of this policy, “parent” does not include the parents-in-law of the employee.

    An employee who is the legal guardian of a child by court appointment may use sick leave to care of the child. Sick leave may also be used for the adoption of a child under the age of three.

    An employee who is on paid leave on the first workday of a month may not use the sick leave that the employee accrues for that month until after the employee returns to duty.

    1. Extended sick leave: Extended sick leave may be available to long-term employees in good standing who have become disabled and have exhausted all accrued sick leave and other leave balances. This benefit may be awarded to provide continued income from the time all accumulated paid leave has been exhausted through the end of the waiting period for long-term disability benefits to begin.

    2. Sick leave pool: The sick leave pool provides a source of additional sick leave for employees who suffer a catastrophic illness or injury and have exhausted all accrued sick leave and other leave balances. All regular employees may voluntarily transfer sick leave from their accrued balances to the UH System sick leave pool and apply for benefits from the pool. (References)

    The Human Resources Office must be contacted regarding the requirements for applying for extended sick leave or sick leave pool. Ultimate approval of leave from the sick leave pool is subject to the availability of hours in the pool.

  7. Bereavement Leave: Regular employees are eligible for up to 3 days of bereavement leave (up to 5 days if the deceased lived out of the area, defined as 100 miles or more) due to a death in the employee's immediate family. For the purpose of this provision, the employee's immediate family includes: husband, wife, children (including step-children), brothers, sisters (including stepbrother or stepsister), brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, parents (including stepparents), grandparents, grandchildren, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sons-in-law, or daughters-in-law. The request shall be submitted to the employee's supervisor (or designee) as early as possible, identifying the relationship of the deceased to the employee. The supervisor may approve up to 5 days of leave for the death as described above. A request for bereavement leave that will exceed 5 days must be approved by the President. Upon return from leave, the employee may be asked to furnish acceptable documentation to his/her supervisor.

  8. Jury duty: A university employee is entitled to leave to respond to a summons for jury duty and to serve on a jury, if selected. The employee will be granted a reasonable amount of time to report for jury duty and to report to work following dismissal from jury duty.

  9. The employee shall submit a Leave Request, together with a copy of the jury summons, as soon as possible after receipt. Employees working the evening or night shift are entitled to leave time for the assigned shift on the day(s) they have responded to and/or served on jury duty during the day shift. If an employee is required to work the evening or night shift on the day(s) of jury duty, the employee will receive additional compensation at straight time for the time worked. The employee is entitled to keep any compensation for jury service.

  10. Witness leave: Any university employee called to appear in the employee’s official capacity in any judicial action, legislative investigation, or as an expert witness on behalf of the university shall consider and report that time as time worked, not leave. They may receive no witness fees for such appearances. However, employees providing witness services on behalf of the university are entitled to paid travel expenses.

  11. A university employee who serves as a witness for any other reason than on behalf of the university is entitled to receive witness fees, but such time must be requested and approved as vacation time, compensatory leave or leave without pay. If the employee is responding to a subpoena and accrued leave is not available, the supervisor (or designee) shall be notified and must grant leave without pay.

    A university employee called to appear in his/her official capacity in a judicial action, a legislative investigation, or as an expert witness on behalf of the university, shall report such time as time worked. However, the employee’s supervisor must be notified of the time away.

  12. Administrative Leave: In the event of an emergency closing of the campus or a portion of the campus declared by the President or the presidential designee, regular employees who leave or cannot get to the campus as a result of the condition will be granted administrative leave for the period of time the university is officially closed. In such circumstances, non-exempt employees who are requested by their supervisors to stay on campus or to come to campus because of the critical nature of their work will receive additional compensation at straight time for the time they work. Authorized administrative leave shall be reported on the time sheet as Administrative Leave, but leave is not requested through a Leave Request.

  13. Volunteer Firefighter Leave: A university employee who is a volunteer firefighter shall be granted a leave of absence not to exceed five days each fiscal year to attend training schools conducted by state agencies. The employee shall submit the Leave Request form, along with a copy of the notice of the training or meeting as soon as possible after the notification is received.

  14. Foster Parent Leave: An employee who is a foster parent to a child under the conservatorship of the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS) is entitled to leave of absence to attend DPRS staffing meetings regarding the child or to attend the school district’s Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings regarding the child.

  15. Red Cross Volunteer Leave (Ready Texans Program): Any university employee who is a certified Red Cross disaster service volunteer or who is training to become a volunteer may be granted leave not to exceed 10 days each fiscal year to participate in specialized disaster relief services for the American Red Cross. Such leave must be based on a request from the American Red Cross with the approval of the Governor’s Office. This leave is subject to annual limits on the pool of state employee certified disaster volunteers set by the Legislature and coordinated by the Division of Emergency Management and the Governor’s Office.

  16. Blind Employee Training Leave: A university employee who is blind (as defined in section 91.002(2) of the Human Resources code) is entitled to leave not to exceed 10 days per fiscal year to acquaint the employee with a seeing-eye dog to be used by the employee.

  17. Faculty Development Leave: Contact the Office of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs for information.

  18. Compensatory leave: University employees may be entitled to compensatory leave time in lieu of pay for time worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. Restrictions and terms differ for non-exempt FLSA and straight-time compensatory leave. Refer to UHV Policy C-25 -Overtime/Compensatory Pay, for additional information. (References)

  19. Sick leave for Children’s Educational Activities: An employee may use up to eight hours of sick leave each fiscal year to attend educational activities of the employee’s children who are in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Educational activities are school-sponsored activities, including parent-teacher conferences, tutoring, volunteer programs, field trips, classroom programs, school committee meetings, academic competitions and athletic, music or theater programs. Employees must give reasonable notice of his or her intention to use this leave to their supervisor. Part-time benefits eligible employees receive this leave on a proportional basis.

  20. Wellness Leave: Texas Government Code, Chapter 664.061, gives state agencies authority to grant eight (8) hours of additional “wellness leave” annually to full time benefits-eligible employees who complete a health risk assessment and receive a routine physical exam by a healthcare provider each year. Refer to UHV Policy C-32, Employee Wellness Program for specifics. (References)

  21. Fitness Release Time: The University Fitness Release Program provides time off without reduction in pay or benefits for physical fitness activities for up to 30 minutes per day, 3 days per week, for up to a maximum of 1.5 hours weekly. Participation is open to full-time, benefits-eligible staff who have successfully completed six (6) months employment. Application approval is required in advance. See UHV Policy C-32 for information. (References)

Other paid leave provided by the State of Texas: The state also provides for other paid leave for certain employees for very specified purposes including bone marrow or organ donation and blood donations as described in Government Code, Chapter 661, Leave. The Human Resources Office should be contacted for the requirements for such leave. (References)

Leaves of Absence without Pay

A leave of absence without pay is an authorized temporary release of an employee from the payroll. A regular employee may be granted a leave of absence without pay for sufficient reason for a period not to exceed 12 months. Except for disciplinary suspensions, active military duty, and worker's compensation situations, all applicable accrued paid leave balances (vacation, compensatory leave, and sick leave) must have been exhausted before the leave without pay period commences. The use of accrued sick leave is, however, restricted to those circumstances that would otherwise qualify the employee for sick leave under state law and university policies.

A leave without pay implies an intent by the employee to return to work and an intent by the university to return the employee to work. Subject to fiscal constraints, the employing department is required to reinstate an employee to the former position or to one of equivalent requirements and compensation upon expiration of the leave.

Leaves without pay of 30 days or less may be granted with the approval of the employee's supervisor (or designee).

A leave of absence without pay for longer than 30 days (other than for military active duty, family and medical leave, parental leave, or workers’ compensation) requires the approval of the employee’s supervisor and the cabinet-level supervisor.

Except where specified otherwise, an employee will not accrue vacation, sick leave, or state service credit for any full calendar month (i.e., from the first day of a month through the last day of a month, inclusive) on leave without pay. An employee will accrue these credits if any part of a month is paid. No retirement plan contributions are made by the university while the employee is on leave without pay. While on leave without pay, the employee is not eligible for holiday pay.

Employees may continue group insurance while on leave without pay. Contact the Human Resources department for further information.

The President may grant exceptions to these policy limitations for such reasons as interagency agreements or for other educational purposes.

Submit a Leave Request Form to request leave without pay. Leave without pay must be requested early enough to allow time for administrative consideration and approval and scheduling of replacement personnel. If leave without pay is requested for medical purposes, procedures outlined in university policies C-26 or C-27 shall be followed. If leave without pay is requested for military active duty, workers’ compensation leave, or witness leave, refer to those sections within this policy for guidance or contact the Human Resources department.

The Faculty Manual and/or the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs should be consulted for restrictions relating to faculty leaves without pay.

Leaves That May Be Paid or Unpaid

  1. Workers’ Compensation Leave All university employees are covered under the provisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Act. Under this act, if an employee is injured on the job or sustains a job-related illness and the employee's claim is accepted for workers' compensation benefits, the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation leave. When on workers' compensation leave, the employee may elect to take accrued paid sick leave, vacation, and/or compensatory time; or the employee may take leave without pay from the university, during which the employee may be compensated at a percentage of his or her salary by the State of Texas Attorney General's office. In any case, the State of Texas covers medical costs.

    On the job injuries or job related illnesses must be reported to the employee's supervisor (or designee) and Human Resources immediately. For additional information concerning workers' compensation leave or documentation requirements, contact the Worker’s Compensation Claims Coordinator in Human Resources.
  2. Family and medical leave: The Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA), as amended, entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

    The employee taking family and medical leave must use all applicable accrued paid leave balances unless concurrently on workers’ compensation leave. The use of accrued sick leave is restricted to those circumstances that would otherwise qualify for sick leave usage under state law. If paid leave balances are exhausted, the remainder of family and medical leave will be on leave without pay.

    Eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:

    • The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • The placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • To care for a family member (child, spouse, or parent) who has a serious health condition;
    • A serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job;
    • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty.

    Eligible employees are entitled to twenty-six workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:

    • Care of a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

    The combined total of FMLA leave of all types cannot exceed 26 weeks during a single 12-month period.

    The Leave Request Form shall be submitted, along with the Application of Family and Medical Leave or Parental Leave and the health care provider’s certification, in accordance with UHV Policy C-26, Family Medical Leave. When the request involves leave without pay, that procedure shall be followed, also.

  3. Parental Leave: An employee who is not eligible for family and medical leave is entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of parental leave for the following events:
    • The birth of a child to the employee and the care of the newborn
    • The placement of a child under three years of age with an employee in connection with the adoption of state-approved foster care of the child

    The employee taking parental leave must use all applicable accrued paid leave balances. The use of accrued sick leave is restricted to those circumstances that would otherwise qualify for sick leave usage under state law. If paid leave balances are exhausted, the remainder of the 12 weeks of parental leave will be on leave without pay.

    The Leave Request Form shall be submitted, along with the Application Parental Leave in accordance with UHV Policy C-27, Parental Leave. (References) When the request involves leave without pay, that procedure shall be followed, also.

  4. Military Leave: Under the General Provisions of the General Appropriations Act and the State of Texas Government Code, University of Houston-Victoria employees who are members of state military forces or a component of the armed forces are entitled to military leave of absence with pay for a maximum of 15 days per federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30) for training or active duty authorized by a proper authority.

    State law also requires that a state employee’s work schedule be adjusted as needed so that two of the employee’s non-work days per month coincide with two days of military duty to be performed by the employee.

    After exhausting the 15 days of paid military leave, the employee may use accrued vacation leave to the extent available and/or be placed in a leave without pay status for the remainder of the active duty period.

    Employees called to active duty are entitled to re-employment following discharge if:

    • the individual received an honorable discharge;
    • the application for re-employment is made within 90 days of discharge;
    • the length of active duty does not exceed five years; and
    • the employee is physically and mentally qualified to perform the essential functions of that position.

    In addition, an eligible employee who is a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a current member of the Armed Forces, including members of the National Guard or Reserves, with a serious injury or illness is eligible for up to a combined total of 26 work weeks of unpaid leave during a “single 12-month period” to care for the service member (military caregiver leave).

    The employee shall submit the Leave Request form, along with a copy of his or her orders, as soon as possible after the orders are received. When the request involves leave without pay, a Personnel Action Request (PAR) shall be submitted, indicating the reason for the leave.

Time Away That Is Not Considered Leave

Time away from the office as a witness on the university’s behalf, to attend work-related training, conferences, workshops, professional development or to attend college credit courses is considered time worked and should not be requested or reported as leave. However, the employee’s supervisor (or designee) must approve the time away in advance. Time away to attend college courses must be requested and approved in accordance with UHV Policy and Procedures, C-18, Employee Training and Development. (References)

REFERENCES

  1. State Appropriations Act
  2. UHV Policy C-14, Discipline and Dismissal of Regular Staff Employees
  3. UHV Policy C-18, Employee Training and Development
  4. UHV Policy C-25, Overtime/Compensatory Time
  5. UHV Policy C-26, Family Medical Leave
  6. UHV Policy C-27, Parental Leave
  7. UHV Leave Request Form
  8. UHS Administrative Memorandum 02.D.02, Sick Leave Pool
  9. Faculty Manual
  10. State of Texas Government Code, Chapter 661, Leave
  11. UHV Policy C-32, Employee Wellness Program

Approved by:

Signature Obtained
Raymond V. Morgan Jr., Ph.D.
Interim President

05/01/14
Date


Originating department: Human Resources
Next review date: May, 2017

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