Professional Development and University Service During Work Time
The University of Kansas supports the training and professional development of its staff to facilitate opportunities for life-long learning, encourage employee productivity, enhance career development, and to encourage participation in campus committee service. This policy outlines the criteria for staff participation in University coursework, professional development programs, interviews for career changes, and University committee service.
Unclassified Professional Staff and University Support Staff members appointed to regular positions.
Authorization to Attend Classes, Professional Development Programs, Seek Career Changes, or to Participate in University Committee Service
Department heads and supervisors are strongly encouraged to support staff members who wish to enroll in academic courses, to participate in training or professional development programs, conferences, short courses, and workshops, seek career changes, and to participate in University committee service held on or off campus so long as the participation does not prevent the normal functions of the department/unit from being carried out.
Departments should make every effort to grant a staff member's request to participate in activities outlined in the policy, considering such factors as department schedule flexibility, workload, availability of temporary/student help, fiscal factors, the number of similar requests from other employees, and the requesting employee’s job performance and/or attendance.
Educational and Professional Development Opportunity Categories
Condition of Employment: These are programs or academic courses required by an employee's department or the University to provide skills or knowledge necessary for the current job. Employees will be granted work time for the purposes of attending such courses. It is the department's responsibility to determine scheduling, to provide coverage while the employee attends the course or program, and to cover any reasonable expenses that may be required by the course or program.
Improvement of Job Skills: These are academic courses or programs that maintain and improve skills or knowledge for the employee's current job. Department heads and supervisors may grant work time to employees for the purposes of attending no more than one such academic course or program per semester when their release can be reasonably accommodated by the department. Any additional courses or programs in this category should not be counted as work time. Absence due to class attendance should not cause undue hardship to the department.
Personal Development: These academic courses or programs are taken solely for personal educational development. Supervisors may, at the option of the department, permit employees to take such academic courses or programs during normal working hours if the time can be made up, flexible work hours are granted, or paid leave (other than sick) is used to cover the time off (non-exempt staff) or the responsibilities of the job are met (exempt staff).
Release Time for Job Interviews
Staff members who are offered on-campus job interviews may be granted a reasonable amount of release time if the employee and supervisor can agree on a time-period that would not be a problem for the work unit. Employees pursuing off-campus employment opportunities must use accrued leave (excluding sick leave) for time away from regular work hours.
In the event the job search is a result of notice of non-reappointment or lay-off, the supervisor and/or departmental unit are encouraged to work with the employee to try to authorize on-campus interviews within work time or off-campus interviews with time off work as long as the time-period does not provide a hardship for the unit.
In the spirit of shared governance, units may authorize work time participation in University committee service that is not directly related to the job duties of a staff member. Some examples of that service include Staff Senate, Staff Councils, and their subcommittees. This service is voluntary and is not eligible for compensation for hourly staff during the lunch hour or after scheduled work hours pursuant to the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
When a University staff member is acting in an official capacity as its representative, such activities are considered as “work time,” even if the work is not a part of their official job duties. For example, a staff member may “volunteer” to represent KU at the State Fair. However, as an official representative of the University, the time spent in the “KU booth” is considered work time.
Review of Decision to Permit Participation
Department heads, within the parameters of University policy and federal law, have the discretion to identify job-related activities as work time. Work time participation in these events may be denied by a supervisor if attendance results in excessive absenteeism or occurs at a time when the needs of the department dictate the presence of the employee.
Supervisors are expected to provide staff reasons for denying participation in the activities covered by this policy. Any employee who feels that the employee has been unreasonably denied permission to participate in activities covered by this policy may have the decision reviewed by the unit director or next level administrator. The employee may also elect to have the decision reviewed by the Department of Human Resource Management. The unit head, whose decision is not subject to grievance, has final authority to grant or deny participation in these events.
Work time is considered in the determination of eligibility for overtime compensation (compensatory time or overtime pay) for hourly (non-exempt) employees.
Temporary employees, faculty, and exempt academic staff are excluded from this policy.
Courses, professional development programs, job interviews, or committee service taken at other than normal working hours are not considered work time and are not limited by this policy.
In some cases, staff may be eligible for tuition assistance to enroll in education opportunities. Being granted tuition assistance for a course does not require that course attendance be considered "work time," except as provided in this policy.
Completion of academic courses and/or programs do not guarantee promotion or transfer into another job within the University.
Failure to obtain advance supervisory authorization to participate in activities covered by this policy during working hours or excessive absence due to participation in these activities may be grounds for disciplinary action.
Department heads and departmental supervisors are expected to exercise equitable, transparent, and reasonable judgment in reviewing requests for granting work time to staff participating in the activities as outlined in this policy, including ensuring that the normal functions of the department can be carried out.
Department of Human Resource Management
103 Carruth-O'Leary Hall
1246 W. Campus Road
Lawrence, KS 66045
09/21/2017: Policy was expanded to include participation in University committee service and other work time professional development activities.
07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
05/04/2016: Added new category - Personnel>Staff>Benefits.
10/29/2015: This policy converts the existing policy for taking University courses from the former University Support Staff Handbook, applies to all staff, and reformats it for the Policy Library.