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IV.D. Employee Responsibilties

IV.D.1. Benefit Plans

IV.D.1.1. Policy

The College offers employee benefit plans as an additional incentive to attract and retain quality employees. The College offers group benefits, paid professional development, standalone disability insurance, and other benefit plans. The College’s Office of Human Resources facilitates most employee benefits.

(a) Group Benefits

The College offers group benefits through the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) to eligible employees and their dependents. ERS-provided group benefits are healthcare, dental care, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, and any other ERS-determined benefit. Eligibility, contribution schedules, and coverage details are ERS-determined. Details and procedures, including waiting periods and open enrollment dates, regarding these group benefits are available by contacting the College’s Benefits Department in the Office of Human Resources.

The College may also offer non-ERS group benefits. These non-ERS plans may include prepaid legal services and any other group benefits as the Chancellor determines and as allowed by law.

(b) Lone Star College Short-Term Disability

The College offers a standalone short-term disability plan to all designated full-time employees. This plan is independent of ERS’s disability insurance. This plan offers short-term, reduced compensation to eligible employees with a documented personal illness, injury, or medical condition preventing them from performing their respective jobs.

(c) Employee Professional Development

Certain employees are eligible for paid professional licensure renewals, professional association or organization membership dues, and established continuing education requirements. The Chancellor or a designee decides which employee positions are eligible for this benefit. Additionally, the College may provide time-off and cost-reimbursement for job-specific training required for all employees, including but not limited to, orientation, legal compliance training, systems training, process training, and other position-specific training.

(d) Limited Employee Educational Assistance

Eligible employees may participate in the Limited Educational Assistance Program. The College may exempt from tuition and required fees eligible employees (up to six credit hours per term for a maximum of 18 credit hours per academic year) for approved College courses taken under this policy. Additionally, the College will do the same with state-funded continuing education courses for eligible employees for approved College courses taken under this policy—subject to space availability. The College may exempt tuition and required fees for a course that includes a laboratory fee. The College may set additional conditions for this program.

(e)        Expense and Travel Reimbursement

Employees may be reimbursed for College-related travel expenses. Employees are eligible for reimbursement if such travel is (1) necessary and important to achieve College business objectives, (2) approved by the employee’s direct line supervisor, (3) documented with appropriate receipts, and (4) funds are available from the appropriate budget. Employees using personal vehicles for College business are reimbursed on a mileage basis except for employees who receive a car allowance. Employees using personal vehicles for College business must maintain state minimum insurance coverage. Any personal vehicle damage that occurs while on College-related business must be covered by the employee’s automobile insurance.

(f)        Wellness Release Time

The College encourages employees to practice simple, positive lifestyle habits that increase quality of life, productivity, and longevity. Employees who engage in a minimum of three hours of exercise or community service each week may receive up to 1.5 hours of release time from their duties to participate in such activities. Wellness release time may only be used if participation does not reduce institutional productivity and the employee’s supervisor approves.

(g)        Unpaid Leave of Absence

An eligible full-time employee may request an unpaid leave of absence for an extended absence not otherwise covered by other leave types (e.g., vacation, FMLA, Jury Duty).

(h)       Worker’s Compensation

Employees who experience an on-the-job illness or injury during the course and scope of employment may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

(i) Faculty Leave Banking

Full-time faculty may convert compensation earned through extra service assignments into a future leave pool. This program allows eligible employees who have earned the equivalent of a full-semester of banked leave plus an additional service assignment to take a semester’s leave with full pay. The Chancellor maintains procedures that govern this program consistent with applicable law.

IV.D.2. Paid Time Off

IV.D.2.1. Policy

The College provides generous paid time off. Indeed, this paid time off policy is likely one of the most effective recruiting and retention tools. The College believes such a policy fosters employee productivity and creates work-life balance. Employees are encouraged, however, to be mindful of elective, excessive absences. This section does not regard job-protected leave; such leave is discussed elsewhere. Only designated full-time employees are eligible for paid time off unless otherwise noted.

(a) Sick Leave

Employees in positions requiring 12 months of service accrue up to 12 sick leave days per academic year. Employees assigned to work less than 12 months earn sick leave at one day per month worked. Sick leave is accrued on a monthly basis for a maximum of 600 hours. Accumulated sick leave may be used for personal illness, a family member’s illness, a domestic partner’s illness, birth of a child, or child adoption. An employee may be required to produce appropriate medical documentation of the illness, particularly if the absences recur in a pattern.

(b) Sick Leave Pool

The College offers an optional sick leave pool program to eligible employees. Employees may enroll in the sick leave pool in March and September of each year and at other Chancellor-authorized times.

(c) Personal Leave

Employees may convert sick leave accruals into personal leave based on years of service as of September 1st each year. Employees may take available personal leave for any reason, with supervisor approval. Adjunct faculty are allowed one paid personal leave day per course taught each semester.

(d) Vacation Leave

Paid vacation leave is available to employees in non-faculty positions and certain faculty-level positions. Vacation leave is calculated and earned on the first day of each pay period, based on the employee’s status and, for non-contractual employees, according to years of service.
 
  (1) Non-Contractual Employees.

Length of Service Annual Accrual Per Month
1-5 years 12 days (96 hours) 8.00 hours
6-10 years 16 days (128 hours) 10.67 hours
11+ years 20 days (160 hours) 13.34 hours

 

  (2) Contractual Employees.

Non-faculty contractual employees and certain faculty-level positions earn 13.34 hours per month beginning with the first month of employment.
  (3) Limitation.

Employees may accumulate vacation leave up to a maximum of 400 hours. Any excess vacation leave must be used during the fiscal year or is forfeited each August 31st. Employees may not take more vacation time than they have accrued.
  (4) Use.

Employees must have supervisor approval to use accrued vacation leave. Non-exempt employees must use accrued compensatory time before using vacation leave.
  (5) Holidays.

If a holiday falls within an employee’s vacation leave, such holiday is not charged as vacation time.
  (6) Change of Position.

If an employee’s position changes from a position that accrues vacation leave to one that does not, the employee must use accrued but unused vacation leave before the change of status’s effective date. Upon the request of a supervisor, approved by (a) the president or operations officer over the employee’s division and the chief human resources officer (b) or the Chancellor, the employee changing positions may be paid for the value of the accrued leave.

(e) Bereavement Leave

All full-time employees may take up to three days of paid bereavement leave in the event of the death of a family member.
(f) Holidays

The College observes holidays indicated in the Academic Calendar.
(g) Jury Duty or Court Appearance

Employees required to appear for jury duty or to testify in court proceedings in which they are not a party, are released from their assigned job duties as necessary with no loss of salary or reduction in leave. Employees are not discharged, disciplined, or otherwise penalized because they comply with a notice of jury duty or a valid subpoena to appear in a civil, criminal, legislative, or administrative proceeding.
(h) Sabbatical Leave

Sabbatical leave is time-specified paid leave awarded to eligible faculty members and administrators. This leave must be used to engage in full-time professional development, study, research, writing, to gain work experience in a related field of work, or to address the College’s strategic needs. Full-time faculty and full-time administrators with at least seven continuous years of service in a contractual position are eligible for sabbatical leave. Eligible employees may be awarded sabbatical leave only once every seven years.

IV.D.3. Retirement Plans

IV.D.3.1. Policy

The College offers comprehensive retirement plans and optional income tax deferrals to eligible employees. As a Texas institution of higher education, the College’s retirement plans are governed by the State of Texas. Indeed, the State of Texas is the final authority on plan eligibility, contribution levels, and other plan-related details. Every College employee enrolls in TRS, ORP, or TIAA-CREF (defined below).

(a) Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)

TRS is a defined benefit plan controlled and governed by the State of Texas. TRS contributions are housed in a State-controlled trust fund and managed by investment professionals. TRS is available to all benefits-eligible employees.

(b) Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

ORP is a defined contribution plan that allows certain eligible participants to select a College-approved financial institution for retirement fund investment. Benefits-eligible employees must enroll in either TRS or ORP within 90 calendar days of employment. This is an irrevocable decision. If a benefits-eligible employee fails to make such a decision, the benefits-eligible employee will be automatically enrolled in TRS.

(c) TIAA

TIAA is a defined contribution plan. College employees not TRS or ORP eligible must participate in TIAA.

(d) Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA)

TDA allows employees to set aside tax-deferred income. TDA is optional and available to all College employees. Contribution levels are subject to current federal income tax laws.


(e) Deferred Compensation Plans

Deferred compensation plans allow employees to defer certain compensation, taxable at distribution. The College’s deferred compensation plans are optional and available to certain College employees.