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. 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. Generally, this policy applies to all regular, benefits-eligible employees. Where there are differences in eligibility under the law, those differences are noted.

All leaves must be requested and approved in accordance with this policy and procedure. The leave must be approved by the employee’s supervisor, and, in the cases noted, by the President.

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.

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 regularly, in accordance with the supervisor’s directions.

The employee must report to the supervisor 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 (UHV Policy and Procedures, C-14).

As a general principle, time away from the workplace on the university’s behalf and/or approved as time worked shall not be considered as leave.

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

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.

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 Christmas holiday break.

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.

Vacation: Regular staff employees and 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:

Maximum Hours to Be
Length of Total Hours Carried Forward from One
State Employment Accrued Fiscal Year to Next
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

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 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.

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. Employees transferring between state agencies within a 30-day period will have their vacation balance transferred to the new agency.

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.

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 actually ill with a documented medical condition. 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 state and minor children of the employee who may not live in the same household. 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.

Emergency leave (bereavement leave): Regular employees are eligible for emergency leave because of a death in the employee’s family, with the written recommendation of the supervisor and the approval of the President. For the purpose of this provision, the employee’s family is defined as the employee’s spouse or the employee’s or spouse’s parents (or step-parents), brothers, sisters (or stepbrothers or stepsisters), children (or stepchildren), grandparents, or grandchildren.

Emergency leave may be granted, with the approval of the President, for other reasons determined to be for good cause.

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.

The employee is entitled to keep any compensation for jury service.

Administrative leave: In the event of an emergency closing of the campus declared by the President or 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.

Compensatory leave: As described in university policy C-25, 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 FLSA compensatory time and straight-time compensatory leave.

Parent-teacher conference leave: An employee may use up to eight hours of sick leave each calendar year to attend parent-teacher conference sessions regarding the employee’s children who are in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Employees must give reasonable notice of intention to use sick leave to attend such conferences.

Other paid leaves provided by the State of Texas: The state also provides for paid leave for certain employees for very specified purposes: volunteer firefighters to attend state training; foster parents to attend certain meetings regarding the child; Red Cross volunteers for specialized disaster relief services; or blind employees to acquaint the employee with a seeing-eye dog. The Human Resources Officer should be contacted for information on these approved leaves.

Leaves 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 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. The use of compensatory time is not required when taking family medical leave or parental leave.

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.

A leave of absence without pay (other than for military active duty, family and medical leave, parental leave, or workers’ compensation) requires the approval of the President in addition to the approval of the employee’s supervisor.

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

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. Also, no retirement plan contributions are made by the university while the employee is on leave without pay.

Employees may continue group insurance while on leave without pay by making arrangements with the Human Resources Department to personally pay the total amount of the premium, including what would have been the state’s contribution. When on family and medical leave, the state’s contribution will be continued, but the employee share of the premium must be paid personally by the employee.

While on leave without pay, the employee is not eligible for holiday pay.

Leaves That May Be Paid or Unpaid

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.

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 shall be notified and must grant leave without pay.

Because of an inherent conflict of interest, in accordance with state law, a university employee may not serve as an expert witness or consultant in litigation against the state, unless the employee is serving in that capacity on behalf of the university in a case in which the university is in litigation against another state agency or institution of higher education.

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 leave 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. Also, in any case, the injury or illness must be reported to the employee’s supervisor immediately.

For additional details of workers’ compensation leave, employees should contact the Human Resources Department.

Family and medical leave: As detailed in UHV Policy and Procedures, C-26, an eligible employee is entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of family and medical leave in a year (as defined) for the following events or conditions:

The employee taking family and medical leave must use all applicable accrued paid leave balances (including accrued sick leave and vacation, but not compensatory leave) unless concurrently on workers’ compensation leave. If paid leave balances are exhausted, the remainder of the 12 weeks of family and medical leave will be on leave without pay.

Parental leave: Under UHV Policy and Procedures, C-27, 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 employee taking parental leave must use all applicable accrued paid leave balances (including accrued sick leave and vacation, but not compensatory leave). If paid leave balances are exhausted, the remainder of the 12 weeks of family and medical leave will be on leave without pay.

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

Time Away That Is Not Considered Leave

Time away from the office as a witness on the university’s behalf to attend conferences and other work-related training or to attend college credit courses approved under UHV Policy and Procedures, C-18 is considered time worked and should not be reported as leave.

 

PROCEDURES

A University of Houston-Victoria Leave Request Form (Attachment A) must be used to request most types of leave. The form shall be completed and submitted to the employee’s supervisor for approval with any required documentation attached.

Where a leave period involves more than one type of leave, each type of leave involved shall be requested according to the procedure for that type leave.

Except as noted, the leave must be requested and approved by the supervisor in advance of the leave. Upon approval, a signed copy shall be returned promptly to the employee. Any adjustment to or disapproval of the leave should be adequately explained.

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

Vacation or compensatory leave: Departmental guidelines for advance notification and scheduling shall be followed.

Sick leave: Leave for medical appointments or elective procedures must be requested ahead of time and scheduled to accommodate work requirements, whenever possible. When the employee is unable to work because of illness, he or she should contact the supervisor at the earliest practical time in accordance with departmental procedures, and the Leave Request Form must be submitted promptly upon return. In addition, 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 written statement of the facts concerning the illness.

Extended sick leave or sick leave pool: The Human Resources Office must be contacted regarding the requirements for applying for extended sick leave or sick leave pool. A request must be accompanied by a statement from the employee’s health care provider supporting the request and requires the approval of the President, as well as the employee’s supervisor and the Human Resources Officer. Ultimate approval of leave from the sick leave pool is subject to the availability of hours in the pool.

Emergency (bereavement) leave:  The request shall be submitted to the employee’s supervisor as early as possible, identifying the relationship of the deceased to the employee. Upon return from the leave, the employee may be asked to furnish acceptable documentation to the supervisor. Emergency leave for other serious causes may be requested with a memorandum describing the situation on which the request is based. The request requires the approval of the supervisor and the President.

Jury duty: The employee shall submit the Leave Request Form, together with a copy of the jury summons, as soon as possible after receipt. Jury time shall be estimated and revised, if necessary, upon return.

Witness leave: A university employee called to appear in an official capacity must notify his or her supervisor of the time away and report such time as time worked. When an employee serves as a witness for any other reason than on behalf of the university, the employee must request vacation, compensatory leave, or leave without pay in accordance with the procedures for those types of leave.

Military 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, that procedure shall be followed, also.

Family and medical leave or parental leave: 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 and Procedures, C-26. When the request involves leave without pay, that procedure shall be followed, also.

Workers’ compensation leave: Forms prescribed for reporting job-related injury or illness for eligibility for compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act may be obtained from the Human Resources Department. If the leave involves leave without pay, that procedure must be followed, also.

Leave without pay: Except for requests for leave without pay where other forms are required, the Leave Request Form shall be submitted for requests for leaves without pay. The request requires the approvals of the supervisor and the President. The leave without pay must be requested early enough to allow time for administrative consideration and approval and scheduling of replacement personnel. If leave is requested for medical purposes, procedures outlined in university policies C-26 or C-27 shall be followed. If leave is requested for military active duty, workers’ compensation leave, or witness leave, those sections of this policy and procedure should also be consulted.

Upon approval of the leave of absence without pay, a personnel action request (PAR) shall be submitted, indicating the reason for the leave and attaching a copy of the approval documentation, in the following cases:

Training, conferences, workshops, professional development, college courses: Time away from the office for approved, work-related training is considered time worked, not leave. However, the employee’s supervisor must approve the time away. Time away to attend college courses must be requested and approved in accordance with UHV Policy and Procedures, C-18.

Administrative leave: Authorized administrative leave shall be reported on the time sheet as administrative leave, but leave is not requested.

Holidays: 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.

Leave Records

Records of leave requests and leave accrued and taken, including copies of timesheets and copies of leave requests, are maintained by the Human Resources Department for the current and previous four fiscal years. The official leave records are those reflected in the UH System payroll system.

Approved by:

 

Signature obtained            7/30/03      
Dr. Karen S. Haynes       Date
President

 

Originating department: Human Resources
New review date: July 2005