Section 5 - Conditions of Employment



Revised: 5/30/03; 1/01/07

1. Purpose: The Employee Education and Training Plan ("the Plan") provides employees of Lamar University with assistance in obtaining additional college-level education and training to increase their value to the University. The Plan is intended to operate such that payments made under it qualify, in the case of undergraduate classes required in a degree plan, as qualified tuition reduction under Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code; or, for all other courses, as business expenses for courses related to the employee’s present position, under Section 162 and thus excluded from taxable income under Section 132(d). As such, the Plan represents an internal administrative procedure for the Lamar components. It is not intended to operate as a fringe benefit plan under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code.

2. Definitions:

2.1 Benefits-Eligible Employee: Any employee defined as a regular full-time employee by the Teachers Retirement System of Texas is a Benefits-Eligible Employee. This includes all persons employed for a definite period of at least four and one-half months or one long semester at a workload not less than one-half of the standard workload, excluding those employees who are required as a condition of employment to be enrolled as students.

2.2 Course: Any course offered by a Lamar component for which academic or technical credit is awarded upon successful completion of the course. The term ―course‖ shall include any associated laboratory or other practical instruction only if such instruction is an integral part of the course, and is not separately numbered. The term course shall include ―Developmental‖ and ―Pre-Collegiate‖ courses and laboratories that are offered on a regular basis by a Lamar component and published in its official undergraduate academic catalog.

2.3 First Class Day: For a class offered under any regularly published semester or term schedule, the official ―first class day‖ established for that semester or term regardless of the actual date of the first meeting of the specific class. For any class for which an official ―first class day‖ is not established or cannot be determined under the preceding definition, the date of the first scheduled meeting of the class.

2.4 Standard Workload: The standard workload for an employee (100% FTE) shall be the workload defined in State law or regulation as the standard workload. If no such definition is available, the percent FTE reported for that employee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in accordance with Lamar University rules and procedures shall be used for purposes of the Plan.

3. Eligibility:

3.1 Benefits-Eligible Employee is eligible to make application for payment under the plan for any course, the first class day of which falls on or after the day that the employee has been a Benefits-Eligible Employee for a continuous period of six (6) calendar months.

3.2 If an employee chooses to receive student financial aid for a term, then for that term the employee is classified as a student and will be ineligible for the Plan. Therefore, employees who are student financial aid recipients are not eligible for participation in the Plan. Release time continues to be at the discretion of the supervisor.

3.3 An employee whose application contains significantly incorrect information, who violates the provisions or procedures of the Plan, or who fails to complete his or her obligations under the Plan, may be declared ineligible for any subsequent participation in the Plan.

4. Payments:

4.1 Payments will be made, subject to the other provisions of the Plan, for any course which will maintain or improve the skills required for the employee’s current job. The institution has determined that, since the primary business of the University is to provide courses leading to a degree, any undergraduate degree will improve the skills required of any employee. Payment will thus be made for any undergraduate course which is required on any degree plan that the employee may be pursuing.

Payment for graduate classes or other undergraduate classes will be made only if the employee’s supervisor certifies that the specific course is directly relevant to the employee’s current position.

4.2 Payments will be made, subject to the other provisions of the plan, for no more than one course per semester for any employee.

4.3 Payments are applicable only to the course for which approval was granted. A new application must be fully approved as specified in Section V before a different course may be substituted under ―drop and add‖ procedures for the originally approved course.

4.4 If an employee has previously been the beneficiary of payment under this plan for a course, payment will not be made a second time for the same or an equivalent course, except when the course was officially dropped (or the student officially withdrew) owing to documented medical causes or at the request of the employee’s supervisor on account of workload considerations.

4.5 Payments will be made, subject to the other provisions of the Plan, for no more than two courses per academic year (nominally September 1 through August 31) for any employee. Payments will be made during summer terms for eligible employees even though they are not employed during the summer months if such employees are benefits-eligible during the semester immediately preceding the summer, unless they have resigned or their employment has been permanently or indefinitely terminated.

4.6 Mini-sessions may be approved for payment; however, they will not be approved for absences from work.

4.7 The maximum payment for any one course shall comprise tuition and all fees associated with the course. In the event that an employee is enrolling in more than one course at a Lamar component or component(s) during the same semester, the employee shall pay the incremental charges for tuition and other fees resulting from the additional course(s). Payments will not be made for any deposits or other charges which are refundable at the end of the course or subsequently.

4.8 Payments for courses taken at a Lamar component will be paid directly to the component.

4.9 Travel expenses will not be reimbursed under this Plan.

4.10 Refunds for dropped or withdrawn Lamar component courses will be refunded back to the Lamar account from which they were paid.

4.11 In order to conform to IRS regulations and guidance, payment will be made for Physical Activity Courses (PEGA or PHED prefixed courses) only to the extent that such courses are required for graduation.

5. Availability of Funds for the Plan: Payments under the Plan are subject to funds being available in the Lamar University budget. The Lamar University is not required to make any funds available in any given fiscal year. In the event that funds available in any given year are not sufficient to fund all applications for payments, approved applications shall be funded in order of receipt by the finance office of the employing component until available funds are exhausted.

6. Applications for Payment: An employee applying for payment under the Plan must complete the appropriate application form and submit it to his/her Account Manager and/or Dean (as indicated on the form) for approval of the course to be taken. The Account Manager or Dean may decline to approve payment for a course if the employee is not in good academic standing or is not making satisfactory academic progress as defined in the rules governing federal student financial aid. The application shall then be submitted to the Human Resources Office. Payment will be authorized only after completion by all administrative offices.

7. Plan Administration/Release Time:

7.1 Nothing in the Plan shall in any way modify or waive any Lamar component entrance or other academic requirements or course prerequisites.

7.2 Approval of payment under the Plan does not constitute approval to be absent from assigned duties during normal working hours.

7.3 With the employee’s supervisor and those above the supervisor’s approval, release time for one class may be granted. Release time is not to exceed the time required for one course. An employee may take only one course a semester during the employee’s scheduled work day.

7.3.1 Permission to be absent from assigned duties will only be granted if the designated course is not available after work hours.

7.3.2 Variation in a work schedule or flex-scheduling is not permitted solely for an employee to take a course. Flex-scheduling is to be used only when it improves or benefits the operation of the department or office.

7.4 Permission to be absent from assigned duties is at the sole discretion of the employing institution. Nothing in this policy shall be construed as requiring any administrator or supervisor to approve release time during normal working hours. Supervisors and administrators may treat each application for release time based on the particular expertise, duties, and responsibilities of the individual employee involved, even though this may result in some employees being permitted release time and others not.

7.5 Release time under this plan shall not be used for prerequisite testing, advisement, or other non-instructional activities.

7.6 Nothing in the Plan shall be construed as prohibiting Lamar University from making payment outside this plan for any course or training for any employee when taking such course or training is initiated by a supervisor or administrator.

7.7 Completed applications must be in the Human Resources Office on or before the ―first class day‖ of the semester as defined in subsection 2.3 of this policy.