Employee Wellness Program
Section: Personnel: C-32
Chapter 664, Texas Government Code, recognizes the benefit of worksite wellness programs and authorizes state agencies to use funds and facilities for fitness programs. (References)
In cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV or University) has established this policy as the foundation for the University’s Employee Wellness Program. Wellness Program initiatives are intended to address the primary components of a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco cessation and stress management. Wellness activities are open to all employees; however, participation in some activities will require Supervisor approval. While employee participation is encouraged, it is completely voluntary. Because the program is intended to improve the health and well-being of all employees, employee needs and interests will be considered in the planning and design of wellness activities.
The Benefits/HRMS Manager will serve as the Wellness Program Coordinator and oversee the program. Questions concerning this policy should be referred to the Benefits/HRMS Manager or the Director, HR/AA.
Primary Goal – The University Wellness Program will focus on improvement of the well-being and productivity of all employees, through enhancement of all aspects of health. The program seeks to increase awareness of positive health behaviors, to motivate employees to voluntarily adopt healthier behaviors and to provide opportunities and a supportive environment to foster positive lifestyle changes. In addition to the benefits for employees, positive benefits are likely to accrue to the families of employees. Employer benefits include lower employee health care costs and happier, more productive employees.
Program Activities and Eligibility Requirements
All employees are encouraged to participate in wellness activities; however, participation in some programs is restricted to full-time benefits eligible employees and requires supervisory approval.
Fitness Release Time Program
Participation is open to full-time, benefits-eligible staff who have successfully completed six (6) months employment.
Employees eligible to participate in the Fitness Release Time Program may request up to 30 minutes per day, 3 days per week, with a maximum of one and one-half (1.5) hours release time per week, for participation in an exercise program or wellness activity:
- Application approval is required in advance of participation. (References) Written approval of the Department Head and the Cabinet Level Supervisor is required. If an application is denied, the supervisor or department head will include the reason on the application.
- Approvals expire August 31st of each year. Re-application is required annually.
- Release time is paid, does not have to be made up and cannot be accrued for future use.
- Fitness release time taken must be recorded on the employee’s timesheet. Fitness release time benefits should not be used in conjunction with sick leave or vacation leave taken on the same day.
Supervisors are encouraged to approve employee release time providing participation does not interfere with the employee’s position responsibilities or negatively affect departmental operations.
Abuse of fitness release benefits may make the employee ineligible for further participation and can result in disciplinary action. Please direct questions concerning the Fitness Release Time Program to the Benefits/HRMS Manager.
Reminder: UHV 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. If also participating in the college study work release program, the total release time for both programs is limited to 3 hours per week.
Texas Government Code, Chapter 664.061 gives state agencies authority to grant eight (8) hours of additional “wellness leave” annually to full time employees who complete a Health/Wellness Survey and receive a routine physical exam by a healthcare provider each year:
- Participation is open to full-time, benefits-eligible staff who have successfully completed six (6) months employment.
- The employee does not need to participate in the Fitness Release Program to request Wellness Leave;
- Wellness Leave once approved, must be used within 12 months of the date awarded and cannot be taken in less than 4 hour increments. Unused time expires after 1 year.
- The Health Risk Assessment may be completed online at HealthSelect.bcbstx.com during work hours without taking leave. (References)
- Sick leave must be used for the Physical Exam if taken during employee’s work hours.
- A Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Exam Affidavit must also be completed and signed. (References).
- The Supervisor, upon review of the Affidavit, can then approve Wellness Leave for the employee. The original signed affidavit must be sent to HR for leave documentation.
- Employees are eligible for the 8 hours of Wellness Leave once per year. i.e. If an employee’s wellness leave was awarded on 8/1/13, the employee would not be eligible again until 8/1/14.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The University of Houston-Victoria currently contracts with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to provide a comprehensive, university-wide Employee Assistance Program. EAP Services include:
The Employee Assistance Program is open to all benefits eligible employees. More information about this program can be found at the UT EAP website. (References)
Corporate Cup Event
The purpose of Corporate Cup is to promote community-wide interest and involvement in fitness and health activities. It also inspires camaraderie among employees, families, and other team members. The University encourages employee participation in the Corporate Cup and will pay for the cost of UHV team sponsorships. To learn more, visit the Corporate Cup website.
Victoria College Sports Center
The Victoria College Sports Center is available for use by all faculty and staff at no cost to the employee. The Sports Center is a place for faculty and staff to get fit, stay healthy and have fun. The Center offers a full weight room facility, aerobics room, gym and locker rooms. Tennis and sand volleyball courts are also available. Some services may not be available to UHV employees. For more information visit the VC website (References)
Use of Facilities and Grounds
Campus Wellness Program activities are expected to normally take place on campus grounds or in facilities owned, leased or rented by the University of Houston-System or University of Houston-Victoria. Available facilities may include classrooms, auditoriums, multi-purpose rooms, and conference and seminar rooms. No modifications to buildings or facilities are anticipated for wellness program activities and campus room reservation policy and procedures should be followed. (References)
Providers of Instruction
Providers of instruction or services for the wellness program may include health educators, nutritionists, mental health professionals, certified fitness instructors and certified instructors in respective fields. Only persons with acceptable credentials will be selected for program activities.
Outside agencies including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the UHV Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), American Red Cross and Texas Department of State Health Services may be utilized to assist in program presentation and educational services.
The Wellness Program consists of activities that include awareness, lifestyle changes, and supportive environment. Depending on the availability of funds and personnel support, the activities may include:
- Materials on bulletin boards around campus
- Informative handouts and brochures
- Information posted to the Training and Development web site
- Periodic email notifications to the university community
- Participation in fitness activities on campus, such as physical exercise (group or individual activity such as walking or jogging on campus)
- Participation in fitness activities at the Victoria College Sports Center
- Participation in fitness programs or events outside the university (Corporate Cup activities)
- Campus Wellness workshops and seminars coordinated by Training and Development
- Referrals to the Employee Assistance Program (UT Health Science Center)
Most UHV sponsored Wellness Program activities will be offered at no charge or at a nominal cost to the employee.
No university funds may be used to pay for individual memberships to campus or off-campus health clubs, sports leagues or for medical treatment facilities.
Entry fee payment for University sponsored team registrations, other than the Corporate Cup, require the approval of the Executive Committee and should be submitted to Director, HR, EO/Title IX Coordinator
Most educational and awareness programs will be offered during normal work hours or during the lunch hour. Departments may plan an educational workshop for the entire department when it is believed that the activity will improve the productivity of the overall employee group. Supervisors are encouraged to allow for participation in programs that are offered during business hours.
Employees who regularly participate in wellness activities should experience noticeable health benefits, better quality of life, lower medical expenses, less absenteeism and higher levels of work productivity.
It is expected employees who utilize the UHV Employee Assistance Program will report satisfaction with those services, and the services were an aid in the elimination or amelioration of personal problems negatively affecting their work performance.
Employees injured by participating in a Wellness program or activity are not eligible for worker’s compensation benefits unless their participation was in the course and scope of their job duties and employment.
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Program
Annual Progress Report - A summary progress report of the program will be provided to the Executive Committee by December 31st of each year for previous fiscal year activities.
Time and Effort Reporting (Timesheets)
- Participation in the Fitness Release Time program will be recorded on the Time and Effort report for each monthly or bi-weekly participating employee
- Utilization information will be provided upon request to Supervisors. References:
- Fitness Release Time Application form
- Victoria College Sports Center
- University of Texas Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- UHV Reservation Policy H-1, Facilities and Grounds Usage
- Texas Government Code, Chapter 664.061, State Employee Wellness Program
- Affidavit for Wellness Leave
- HealthSelect Survey Site
Signature Obtained________ 1/4/18______________
Raymond V. Morgan, Ph.D. Date
Origination: Human Resources Department
Next Review Date: December, 2020