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You are here: Home . rules . 2003 . 0618-059
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Subchapter AA. Employee Training

28 TAC §§ 1.2702 and 1.2703

The Commissioner of Insurance adopts amendments to §§1.2702 and 1.2703 concerning employee training. Sections 1.2702 and 1.2703 are adopted without changes to the proposed text as published in the February 14, 2003 issue of the Texas Register (28 TexReg 1363) and will not be republished.

The amendments are necessary to update Subchapter AA to reflect the department´s policies and procedures regarding training offered to department employees, and to address certain recently enacted statutory provisions regarding employee training. Section 656.048 of the Government Code requires state agencies to adopt rules relating to the eligibility of employees for training and education supported by the agency and the obligations assumed by the employees on receiving the training and education.

The amendments are also necessary to address certain recently enacted statutory provisions regarding employee training. State agencies are required by Senate Bill 1, Article IX, §9.14 of the 77 th Legislature to use Internet-based training for state-mandated human resources training and other training programs if Internet-based training is available and appropriate.

The amendments to §1.2702 address the department´s use of Internet-based training when it is available and appropriate for its employees. The amendments to §1.2702 clarify which training courses are eligible for tuition reimbursement or education leave. The amendments to §1.2702 also address the possible tax implications to employees of education assistance paid by the department. In addition, the amendments to §1.2702 set forth the general obligations of employees upon completion of training, under which the employee may be required to conduct training on the information or skills learned as a result of attending the training program. The amendments to §1.2703 clarify that all employees serve the department as at-will employees regardless of any participation in the employee training program.

No comments were received regarding adoption of the amendment.

The amendments are adopted under the Insurance Code §36.001 and the Government Code §656.048. The Insurance Code §36.001 authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules for the conduct and execution of the duties and functions of the department as authorized by statute. The Government Code §656.048 provides for the adoption of rules by state agencies relating to training and education of agency employees.

§1.2702. Employee Training Program.

(a) Components of program. The employee training program for the department consists of agency-sponsored training, seminars and conferences, Internet-based training, and tuition reimbursement, as set out and described in subsections (b) ­ (e) of this section.

(b) Agency-sponsored training. A program of in-house training for agency employees is provided. This in-house training program includes new employee orientation.

(1) Training on Policies Prohibiting Discrimination. All new employees must attend an orientation session within 30 days of their date of hire containing information on the department's policies and procedures including information on discrimination and sexual harassment. Employees must attend supplemental training on discrimination, including sexual harassment, every two years.

(2) Quarterly Training Calendar and Catalog. A quarterly training calendar lists course offerings. A training catalog contains course descriptions of all available courses. The employee's supervisor must approve all requests for in-house training.

(3) Payment of Course Fees. Some in-house training may require a division to pay for instructor fees and/or course materials, payment of which is coordinated though the Professional Development section of the department's Human Resources Division. If the course offers an optional examination for a fee, the employee taking the course will be responsible for payment of the examination fee. Any employee passing the examination may request reimbursement of the examination fee upon proof of payment of the fee and passing the examination. Some fees may be reimbursed at a percentage of base fee amounts as determined by the commissioner. Approval of payment is contingent upon availability of funds.

(4) Travel Expenses for Department-Sponsored Training. Travel expenses incurred by employees attending department-sponsored training will not be reimbursed unless the commissioner of insurance or his or her designee certifies the following:

(A) The department does not possess interactive television or videoconference facilities at the designated headquarters of the employee attending the seminar;

(B) The department cannot purchase or lease such facilities at a cost less than the total travel costs associated with the seminar; and

(C) The department does not have access to another agency's interactive television or videoconference facilities at the same location.

(5) Professional Development Section Assistance. The Professional Development Section of the department's Human Resources Division will assist the seminar coordinators in determining, on a case-by-case basis, the feasibility of using videoconferencing or interactive television for department-sponsored training. If it is determined that the travel expenses to attend agency sponsored training are justified, the requesting division's associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employees' chain of command will prepare a written request to obtain certification from the commissioner of insurance prior to the training event. Copies of the certification must be submitted to the Professional Development Section of the department's Human Resources Division and to the department's Accounting Division.

(c) Seminars and conferences. The department may also pay for training, seminars or conferences unavailable in-house and related to a current or prospective duty assignment. Requests to attend an external training program, seminar or conference must be approved by the associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employee's chain of command. Training, seminars or conferences which are required to maintain a professional license will be considered a priority in allocating a division's training budget if the professional license is a requirement of the employee's job. Attendance at an approved training program, seminar or conference will be considered part of the employee's normal work duties. An employee will not be required to use accrued leave to attend an approved training program, seminar or conference.

(d) Tuition reimbursement. The department may reimburse full-time regular employees for tuition and required fees or may grant education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement if the criteria set out in paragraphs (1) ­ (5) of this subsection are met.

(1) Eligibility. Eligibility requirements for tuition reimbursement must be satisfied as set out in subparagraphs (A) ­ (J) of this paragraph.

(A) An employee must have completed 12 consecutive months of full-time employment with the department prior to requesting approval to receive tuition reimbursement or education leave. However, if the associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employee's chain of command determines that an employee with less than 12 consecutive months of full-time employment needs a particular course and recommends the employee for eligibility, the 12-month requirement may be waived.

(B) An employee must have achieved an overall performance rating of at least 3.25 on the employee's most recent performance evaluation at the time of the request for approval to receive tuition reimbursement or education leave.

(C) An employee must not have been the subject of formal disciplinary action for at least six months prior to requesting approval to receive tuition reimbursement or education leave. As used in this section, "disciplinary action" includes a formal written reprimand, suspension without pay, or salary reduction for disciplinary reasons.

(D) An employee must meet all admission requirements of the educational institution offering the course for which approval to receive tuition reimbursement or education leave is requested.

(E) The course work must be related to a current or prospective duty assignment within the agency. A prospective duty assignment may include a position within the agency to which the employee aspires. The associate commissioner -- or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner -- in the employee's chain of command will determine whether a course relates to a current or prospective duty assignment in the employee's division. The Human Resources Division will determine whether a course relates to a current or prospective duty assignment within the agency.

(F) At the time of the request for approval to receive tuition reimbursement or education leave, comparable training must not be scheduled to be offered in-house during the period of time covered by the tuition reimbursement or education leave request.

(G) The employee's participation must not adversely affect workload or performance.

(H) The employee must complete the course within the semester for which tuition reimbursement or education leave was requested.

(I) Incomplete courses are not eligible for tuition reimbursement or education leave.

(J) The employee must receive a passing grade and/or receive college credit hours in the course. A passing grade is a grade which will entitle the employee to receive credit for the course from the educational institution offering the course.

(2) Reimbursable costs. Criteria addressing the extent to which cost of tuition may be reimbursed are set out in subparagraphs (A) ­ (F) of this paragraph.

(A) The maximum amount an employee may be reimbursed for an approved tuition reimbursement request is $250 per semester, not to exceed $500 per fiscal year. If an employee presents compelling reasons, the maximum amount for tuition reimbursement may be increased to $500 per semester, not to exceed $1,000 per fiscal year. Such increased amounts must be specifically approved by the associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employee's chain of command and by the chief of staff.

(B) Employees may be reimbursed only for the cost of tuition and related fees at an educational institution.

(C) Employees will not be reimbursed for any part of tuition covered by scholarships, grants or other awarded funds.

(D) Employees will not be reimbursed for items that are not part of tuition, such as textbooks, workbooks, lab supplies.

(E) Employees will not be reimbursed for auditing a course.

(F) Employees will not be reimbursed for any federal income taxes incurred because of education assistance paid by the department.

(3) Education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement. Criteria for taking education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement are set out in subparagraphs (A) - (F) of this paragraph.

(A) Education leave may be taken only for approved courses which are offered only during work hours.

(B) Before requesting education leave, employees must fully consider and explore education options that would not involve education leave. For example, employees must register for classes scheduled before or after work, or during the lunch hour when courses are available at those times. Employees may also request a flex-time or compressed work week schedule that would allow for class attendance without the use of education leave. Such a work schedule must not disrupt or adversely affect performance by the employee or the employee's division, section, program or activity.

(C) An employee approved for education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement may be granted up to six hours per week of education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement.

(D) Education leave may be taken for the sole purpose of attending an approved course during work hours. An employee may not take education leave if the employee does not actually attend the class for which education leave has been approved. Education leave may not be taken during the week of spring break. Education leave may not be taken to study for a course.

(E) Education leave will be treated as emergency leave on the employee's monthly attendance record with a notation that the emergency leave is for the purpose of attending a course approved for education leave.

(F) An employee who has been approved for education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement will receive, on a provisional basis, the approved amount of education leave. If the employee satisfactorily completes the course, the approved leave will remain designated as education leave. However, if the employee fails to satisfactorily complete the course for which education leave was granted, of if the employee separates from employment with the department before submitting the final grade report for any courses for which education leave was granted, the leave will be changed to annual leave, compensatory time leave or overtime leave, and the employee's leave balances will be adjusted accordingly. If the employee's leave balances are exhausted, the remaining education leave will be changed to leave without pay, and the employee's pay will be adjusted accordingly.

(4) Procedure. Specific procedural steps required to complete the tuition reimbursement process are set out in subparagraphs (A) - (G) of this paragraph.

(A) An employee must receive written approval to receive tuition reimbursement or education leave prior to enrolling in the course or courses for which tuition reimbursement or education leave is requested. Approval of tuition reimbursement or education leave will be granted on a semester-by-semester basis.

(B) Tuition reimbursement or education leave must be approved by the associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employee's chain of command. The Human Resources Division also will review all requests for tuition reimbursement or education leave to ensure compliance with this policy. In addition, education leave must be approved by the chief of staff. The chief of staff has been authorized by the commissioner to determine whether good cause exists to grant education leave in lieu of tuition reimbursement.

(C) To receive reimbursement for tuition, within two weeks after receipt of the final grade in a course for which reimbursement has been approved, the employee must submit a purchase request, a copy of the final grade report, and an itemized tuition receipt to the associate commissioner -- or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner -- in the employee´s chain of command. Upon approval of the purchase request, the employee must send a copy of the approved purchase request to the Human Resources Division. The department will not reimburse tuition if an employee separates from employment with the department before submitting the final grade report for any courses for which tuition reimbursement was granted.

(D) If an employee has been approved for education leave, within two weeks after receipt of the final grade in a course for which education leave has been approved, the employee must submit a copy of the final grade report to the associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employee's chain of command.

(E) An employee must immediately notify the associate commissioner--or highest level manager who reports directly to the commissioner, if not an associate commissioner--in the employee's chain of command if the employee ceases to be enrolled in a class for which reimbursement or education leave has been requested.

(F) A manager may require that an employee receiving tuition reimbursement or education leave make regular reports regarding the employee's progress in the course for which reimbursement or leave has been authorized.

(G) Copies of documentation regarding tuition reimbursement and education leave will be forwarded to the Human Resources Division. The Human Resources Division will monitor compliance with and utilization of this policy.

(5) Use of equipment. Employees may not use department equipment, such as computers, calculators, or typewriters to complete course work for which tuition reimbursement or education leave has been granted.

(e) Internet-based Training. The department shall use Internet-based training for state-mandated human resources training and other training programs if Internet-based training is available and appropriate. The department may establish procedures for employees to use Internet-based training.

(f) Employee obligations upon completion of training. Upon completion of a training program, an employee´s manager may require that the employee assume certain additional obligations, including, but not limited to, the obligations set out in paragraphs (1) ­ (4) of this subsection.

(1) An employee may be required to discuss information obtained at the training with other department employees.

(2) An employee may be required to share materials obtained from training with other department employees, to the extent such sharing does not violate copyright law.

(3) An employee may be required to assume additional job duties for which the training prepared the employee.

(4) An employee may be required to conduct training for other department employees concerning the information or skills taught at the training program.

§1.2703. No Effect on At-will Status. Approval to participate in a training program, including agency sponsored training, seminars or conferences, Internet-based training or the tuition reimbursement program shall not in any way affect an employee´s at-will status.

(1) No guarantee or entitlement. The approval of tuition reimbursement or education leave for one semester is not a guarantee or indication that tuition reimbursement or education leave will be granted for subsequent semesters.

(2) Employment status unaffected. Approval to participate in a training program, including agency sponsored training, seminars or conferences , Internet-based training or the tuition reimbursement program, shall not in any way constitute a guarantee or indication of continued employment, nor shall it constitute a guarantee or indication of future employment in a current or prospective position.

(3) Effect of agreement under Texas Government Code §656.103. An agreement in accordance with Texas Government Code §656.103 shall not in any way constitute a guarantee or indication of continued employment, nor shall it constitute a guarantee or indication of future employment in a current or prospective position.



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