Sunset Leave Policies

Sec. 5.01   Annual Leave

(a) After six continuous months of state employment, an employee is permitted to apply for a vacation with pay.  Vacation leave accrues from the first day of employment through the last day of work.  Part-time employees accrue vacation time at a rate in proportion to that of regular full-time employees.  The rate of accrual is dependent on the employee’s length of employment with the state.  Leave credit accumulates for each month or fraction of a month of employment with the state.

(b) Vacation leave accruals for return-to-work retirees are based on retirement and rehire dates.  An employee returning to state employment who retired from state employment on or after June 1, 2005, and who receives a state annuity accrues vacation leave based only on the employee’s length of service earned after the employee’s retirement date.

(c) An employee who has accrued six months of continuous state employment is entitled to be paid for the accrued balance of vacation leave as of the date of separation if the employee is not reemployed by a state agency in a position which accrues vacation leave during the 30-day period immediately following the date of separation from state employment.  The employee may either remain on the payroll to exhaust the leave, provided sick leave may not be used; or the employee may be paid by lump sum 30 days from last day of employment.  The six months of continuous state employment may have been accrued at any time during the employee’s lifetime, which means that it may have been accrued during a previous period of employment and not during the employment from which the employee is currently separating. If, however, the terminating employee is reemployed by a state agency within 30 calendar days of separation, payment of accrued vacation is not authorized and all leave will be transferred to the new state agency.  The net balance of unused accumulated annual leave carries forward from one fiscal year to the next, but may not exceed the maximum provided by the General Appropriations Act. Amounts in excess of the maximum on August 31 will be transferred to sick leave on September 1.  The maximum carryover for part-time employees is figured on a proportionate basis.

(d) The following chart details the vacation leave accrual rate for Sunset employees:

Length of Employment
Monthly Accrual
Maximum Hours to Carry Forward
From One Fiscal Year to the Next
Less than 2 years 8 180
2 but less than 5 years 9 244
5 but less than 10 years 10 268
10 but less than 15 years 11 292
15 but less than 20 years 13 340
20 but less than 25 years 15 388
25 but less than 30 years 17 436
30 but less than 35 years 19 484
35 years or more 21 532

(e) An employee who is on paid leave on the first workday of a month may not take vacation leave accrued for that month until the employee has returned to duty.

(f) An employee may use vacation leave for absences due to an illness or injury.  If work restrictions apply to an employee who returns to work after having been absent due to an illness or injury, the employee must provide a written doctor’s note indicating the work restrictions.  The doctor’s note must be provided to Human Resources upon the employee’s return to work.

Sec. 5.02    Leave Guidelines — As a legislative agency, Sunset’s work occurs on a biennial basis, primarily during the review cycle and legislative session.  However, Sunset values work-life integration and recognizes that life does not happen on a biennial basis.  Sunset has established the following guidelines in an effort to balance Sunset’s work and use of leave time, but all time off requires approval.  The following information details how Sunset's leave policy adjusts during the biennium.

  • Review Period (September through December of Odd‑Numbered Years, and Even Numbered Years).  While Sunset is busy during this time, a vacation of not more than seven working days is possible provided the employee is sensitive to Commission meeting dates or important review deadlines.  Employees should not plan days off in a week immediately preceding or following a Commission meeting in which they are involved — if a Commission meeting date is moved and employees have a role in the meeting, they will be expected to be at the meeting.
  • Winter Holiday Period.  The time period around Christmas and New Years in both odd and even-numbered years is often a good time for taking time off.  One week off, or longer, is often practical during this period.  However, the staffing needs of the agency must be taken into consideration before time off is approved.
  • Session (January through May of Odd‑Numbered Years).  This time is when the Legislature is meeting.  While time off is possible during the session, employees must be aware of the possibility of a busy and/or extended work schedule.  Employees must also be present at all legislative committee hearings and member briefings where relevant legislation is being discussed.
  • Summer After Session (June through August of Odd‑Numbered Years).  During this period after Session, up to the next review period, longer vacations, from two to three weeks, are possible.  Any vacations longer than three weeks must be approved by the director.

An employee may also use annual leave to take time off to cover illness.  If an employee uses more than three days of annual leave to cover illness, a doctor’s note indicating the cause or nature of the illness and need for time off must be provided.

Employees should strive to request time off more than eight hours in advance from their Supervisory Home.  Employees should email their request to their Supervisory Home and CC their project manager and supervisor.  The Supervisory Home will ensure that the use of leave does not unduly disrupt Sunset’s work.  If a Supervisory Home has concerns with the requested time off, they should discuss these concerns with Human Resources.  The director has final approval of all requested leave.

After leave has been approved, employees must put it on their calendar and email an appointment to the office vacation calendar.  Employees should include their initials in the subject line to clarify who will be out on leave.  For leave of eight hours or less, employees must still place the leave on their calendar and inform their project manager or supervisor.

Sec. 5.03    Holidays — Statutes control holidays for state employees.  A list of the holidays to be observed for the coming year is available at Holidays falling on Saturdays and Sundays will not be observed by closing the office on preceding or following days.  Depending on the review cycle and office workloads, employees may need to work on holidays.  Certain additional days are set by the Legislature as state holidays, which are “skeleton holidays.”  On such days, offices must maintain “skeleton crews” so that essential services are provided to the public.  Any time worked on holidays may be counted as compensatory time.  Employees are entitled to observe “optional holidays” — Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Good Friday, and Cesar Chavez Day — in lieu of a skeleton holiday.  To take an optional holiday, an employee must agree to give up an equivalent number of state (skeleton) holidays during the same fiscal year.  

Sec. 5.04    Sick Leave

(a)  Employees are entitled to sick leave without deduction in salary and will accrue one day’s sick leave credit (eight hours) for each month or fraction of a month of employment with the state.  As with vacation time, sick leave for part-time employees is accrued in proportion to that of full-time employees.  Unlike vacation time, there is no limit to the amount of sick leave that may be accrued or carried forward from one fiscal year to the next.

(b)  An employee who leaves state employment is not entitled to be paid for unused accrued sick leave.

(c)  Sick leave with pay may be taken whenever illness, injury, or pregnancy and confinement of an employee or illness of a member of an employee’s immediate family prevents the employee’s performance of duty.  “Immediate family” means those individuals who reside in the same household and are related by kinship, adoption, or marriage, and foster children certified by the Department of Family and Protective Services.  Minor children of the employee, whether or not living in the same household, will be considered immediate family for purposes of regular sick leave.  In the case of a spouse, child, or parent of the employee who does not reside in the employee’s household, but who requires care and assistance as a direct result of a documented medical condition, the employee may use sick leave to provide care, but it is strictly limited to the time necessary to provide such care.  Requests for sick leave to care for others may be granted at the discretion of the director, or a person designated by the director.

(d)  Appointments with doctors (general physicians, dentists, obstetricians, or other licensed medical specialists) are considered legitimate claims against sick leave.

(e)  An employee who becomes ill while on annual leave, and can substantiate the illness, may have the absence charged to sick leave for the time actually ill.

(f)  If work restrictions apply to an employee who returns to work after having been absent due to an illness or injury, the employee must provide a written doctor’s note indicating the work restrictions.  The doctor’s note must be provided to Human Resources upon the employee’s return to work.

(g)  If an employee must be absent from duty because of an emergent illness, the employee must notify his or her project manager or supervisor and Supervisory Home.  For scheduled use of sick leave, such as a planned procedure, employees should email a request for leave to their Supervisory Home, who will ensure that the leave does not unduly disrupt Sunset’s work.  Once approved the employee should put the leave on their calendar.  To be eligible for accumulated sick leave with pay for a continuous period of more than three working days, the employee must submit a doctor’s note to Human Resources (or some written statement of facts) showing the nature of the illness.

(h)  In cases of extended illness, after vacation, sick leave, and compensatory leave have been exhausted, exceptions to the amount of leave an employee may take may be authorized by the director on an individual basis after review of the particular case.  See Section 5.07 for information on the extended sick leave policy.

(i)  An employee taking sick leave must check in with the employee’s project manager or supervisor on a regular basis as specified by the project manager or supervisor.

(j)  An employee who adopts a child under three years of age is treated as if the child were the natural child of the employee born on the date of the adoption.  In relation to the adoption, the employee may use sick leave in an amount that would be reasonably necessary to recover from a childbirth that is not accompanied by complications.

(k)  An employee who is on leave on the first day of a month may not use the sick leave that the employee accrues for that month until after the employee returns to duty.

Sec. 5.05    Sick Leave for Parent-Teacher Conference — An employee who is a parent of a child attending school in a grade from prekindergarten through 12th grade may use up to eight hours of sick leave each calendar year to attend parent-teacher conference sessions for that child.  Reasonable advance notice of the intention to use sick leave to attend a parent-teacher conference must be given to the employee’s Supervisory Home.

Sec. 5.06    Sick Leave Pool — Sunset has a sick leave pool that provides a “safety net” if an employee, or a member of their immediate family, suffers a catastrophic injury or illness and the employee exhausts all available sick leave.  Even if an employee has not suffered a catastrophic injury or illness, but has exhausted their sick leave, they may participate in the pool and use sick leave hours limited to the amount contributed by the employee during their employment with Sunset.

Employees may contribute, on a voluntary basis, an unlimited amount of sick leave to the pool each fiscal year, in increments of eight hours.  To contribute sick leave hours, complete and submit the Sick Leave Pool Donation form available from the Human Resources.

To request use of the Sick leave pool, employees must complete and submit the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission Sick Leave Pool Request form available from the Human Resources.  If the request is a result of a catastrophic injury or illness, the form must be accompanied by a written statement from the licensed practitioner who is treating the employee or the employee’s immediate family member that provides sufficient information regarding the illness or injury to evaluate the employee’s eligibility.  The amount of pool leave granted for each catastrophic illness or injury will be determined by the director.  The amount cannot exceed one‑third of the balance of hours in the pool, or 90 days in a fiscal year, whichever is less.  Any unused balance of pool leave granted to an employee returns to the pool.  More detailed information regarding the sick leave pool is available in Chapter 661, Texas Government Code.

Sec. 5.07    Extended Sick Leave — Employees are eligible for leave with pay for an illness, injury or temporary disability.  Extended Sick Leave may be used for personal or family illness and may be granted to employees who are unable to use either their sick leave or the sick pool.  For Extended Sick Leave ONLY, family is defined as persons related by kinship or marriage.  To request extended sick leave, the employee must complete and submit the Texas Sunset Advisory Extended Sick Leave Request form available from Human Resources.

The amount of Extended Sick Leave that may be granted will be determined on a case-by-case basis at the director’s or his or her designee’s discretion.  In determining whether an employee is eligible for extended sick leave, the director or his or her designee may consider a number of factors including those listed on the following page.

  • Length of employment with the agency.
  • Type or nature of the illness or disability.
  • Current/past work performance.
  • Past leave balances.
  • Whether the employees intends to return to work.
  • Who the leave is for (for example, self or family member).
  • Whether the employee has used extended sick leave previously.

Sec. 5.08    Donation of Sick Leave — A Sunset employee may donate accrued sick leave to another Sunset employee who has exhausted all his or her sick leave, including any time he or she is eligible to withdraw from the sick leave pool.  The donated sick leave may only be used for personal illness or to care for a member of the employee’s immediate family (see Section 5.04 regarding when paid sick leave may be taken).  The employee that receives the donated sick leave may not receive service credit in the ERS system for donated sick leave that is not used on the last day of the employee’s employment.  If you wish to donate sick leave to another Sunset employee, email Human Resources.  Donated sick leave can count toward FMLA hours if the leave is used for a FMLA qualifying event.

Sec. 5.09    Abuse of Leave — Human Resources may monitor an employee’s use of leave.  Conduct that may indicate an abuse of leave includes, but is not limited to:

  • frequent absences on Fridays and Mondays, especially if unscheduled;
  • frequent absences before or following a holiday, especially if unscheduled;
  • frequent unscheduled or unapproved absences;
  • frequent use of unaccrued leave; and
  • misuse of leave, especially using sick leave when not sick.
  • Abuse of leave may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Sec. 5.10    Compensatory Time — Employees should strive to complete work within a 40‑hour work week.  However, all positions at Sunset require working in excess of 40 hours a week during certain periods.  When regular full‑time employees are required to work in excess of the standard workday, they are eligible to receive compensatory time (time off) to compensate for the excess time worked.  However, an employee may only earn comp time when working from the office or the employee’s residence, or while traveling on state business.  While Sunset strives to let employees use compensatory time, it is not an entitlement, and use of compensatory time is ultimately the director’s decision.  To accrue compensatory time, worked either outside the office or at the employee’s residence, the employee must be able to show a work product to substantiate the time worked.  Compensatory time may not be earned on the same day that annual leave, sick leave, exercise time, or wellness time are used. 

Compensatory time may be carried forward from one fiscal year to the next within the same biennium.  However, at the end of the fiscal year following a regular legislative session (odd numbered years) any unused compensatory time which exceeds the maximum annual leave carry-over will be lost.  Upon termination with Sunset, an employee may, at the director’s discretion, be allowed to use up to 160 hours of unused compensatory time.  The time would be used as leave time and the employee would be paid a salary for that time period.  This option is not available if the employee is transferring to another state agency.  Compensatory time may not necessarily transfer from one agency to another.

Sec. 5.11 Emergency Leave — Leave with pay shall be granted to an employee with a death in the family.  Family is defined as an employee’s spouse, the employee’s and the spouse’s parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and grandchildren and an employee’s daughters-in-law and sons-in-law.  (Section. 661.902, Texas Government Code).  This emergency leave is for travel and attendance at the funeral and is normally not more than three working days.  This time away from work is not subtracted from any other leave. 

The director has the discretion to grant emergency leave in other situations if the employee requests the leave and the director determines the employee has shown good cause for taking leave.   The director may not grant emergency leave to an employee unless the employee exhibits the intent to return to the agency at the expiration of the leave period and the director believes in good faith that the employee intends to do so.  The employee is not required to request emergency leave if the director grants emergency leave because the agency is closed due to weather conditions or in observance of a holiday.

The director shall report annually the following information to the comptroller no later than October 1 for each employee granted more than 32 hours of emergency leave during the previous state fiscal year.

  • Employee name
  • Employee position
  • Reason for the emergency leave
  • Total number of hours of emergency leave granted during the fiscal year.

Sec. 5.12    Leave Without Pay — Leave without pay (LWOP) may be requested by an eligible employee who wishes to take time off from work without pay.  Except for Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements, and exceptional circumstances, LWOP is not a benefit that an employee can demand or that the agency must provide.  Therefore, this voluntary arrangement can be terminated at any time if it is determined that the agency’s needs are not being met. Where applicable, an employee’s accrued paid leave should be used before LWOP is considered.  The director may authorize LWOP up to 12 months in duration.  If an employee is absent due to a job‑related accident or illness and is eligible to draw Workers’ Compensation Benefits, they may enter LWOP status before using vacation and compensatory leave.  Subject to fiscal constraints, their job will be guaranteed during the absence.  If an employee takes leave without pay for more than three working days after the monthly payroll is prepared, the payment will be canceled.  The payment will be reissued with all applicable deductions for the time on LWOP.  If LWOP is for three days or less and is after the regular payroll is closed, the LWOP deduction will be taken from next month’s pay.  Additionally, an employee in LWOP status, either before or after a holiday, will not be paid for the holiday.

If an employee is in LWOP status that is non-FMLA leave related for a complete calendar month, they will need to submit full payment by the due date for their total monthly insurance premium, including the employee’s portion and the State’s portion.  Failure to make this payment will result in cancellation of insurance effective on the first day of the month of the missed payment.  This will keep the insurance in force during the absence.  Employees on LWOP for an entire calendar month do not accrue vacation or sick leave.  Before returning to work, a physician's certificate may be required stating that the employee is physically able to perform the duties of the position.

The employee must provide a minimum of two days’ notice of intent to return to work.  However, if practicable, the employee should contact Human Resources at least two weeks prior to the expiration of the leave to indicate when the employee will return to work

Sec. 5.13    Family and Medical Leave Act — The Family and Medical Leave Act provides all eligible employees a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during each fiscal year for:

  • the birth and subsequent care of a newborn child;
  • the placement of a child into the home of an employee or with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • the need to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. (A child includes a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, a legal ward, or child of a person standing in loco parentis. A parent is defined as a biological, adoptive, step, or foster parent, or individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a child.);
  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to work;
  • military caregiver leave, to care for a covered service member of the Armed Forces (up to 26 weeks per 12 month period); or
  • qualifying military exigencies.

FMLA Leave Benefits and Protections — Additionally, an employee who takes FMLA leave must be returned to the same job or a job with equivalent status and pay.  The State will continue the employee’s health benefits during the absence, but the agency can require the employee to provide a doctor’s certification.  The employee will be responsible for submitting monthly payments to ERS for the employee-portion of their health insurance to keep it in force.  FMLA leave may be used intermittently if required by a physician to treat a serious illness.  Employees requesting intermittent leave must make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as to not unduly disrupt Sunset’s operations.  For purposes of determining the amount of leave used by an employee, the fact that a holiday may occur within the week taken as FMLA leave has no effect; the week is counted as a week of FMLA leave.  However, if an employee is using FMLA leave in increments of less than one week, the holiday will not count against the employee's FMLA entitlement unless the employee was otherwise scheduled and expected to work during the holiday.

Eligibility for FMLA leave is limited to employees who have worked for the State at least 12 months.  The 12 months need not be consecutive or continuous.  In addition, the employee must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the start of leave.  For purposes of FMLA, the State is considered a single employer.  Sunset will credit time worked for other state employers when considering FMLA eligibility.

Eligible employees must use all appropriate paid leave while taking FMLA leave. Vacation leave, sick leave, state compensatory time, holiday time, and administrative leave that are benefits of the State may be counted toward the entitlement.  If an employee elects to use Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) compensatory time while out on FMLA leave, that time is not counted toward the 12-week entitlement.

The use of sick leave while on FMLA leave is strictly limited to those situations clearly falling within the definition of sick leave.  Sick leave may be used in conjunction with FMLA leave when a child under the age of three is adopted, regardless of whether or not the child is ill at the time of adoption.  Employees on workers’ compensation or receiving temporary disability benefits cannot be required, but may elect, to use paid leave prior to taking FMLA.  The State will continue to pay its portion of the employee’s group health plan coverage during FMLA leave.  The employee is responsible for paying his or her portion of the premium.

An employee does not earn state service credit, vacation leave, or sick leave for any full calendar months of leave without pay while on FMLA leave.  This time is also not included in the calculation of the number of continuous months of employment for purposes of merit increases and leave.  Employees, generally, may not participate in Sunset’s Remote Work Program while on FMLA leave.

Process to Request FMLA Leave — Employees should provide 30 days’ notice of the need to take FMLA leave.  If 30 days’ notice is not possible, notice must be provided as soon as practical.  Employees must provide sufficient information to determine if the leave qualifies for FMLA protection.  Please see Human Resources for appropriate forms.  Employees are responsible for informing Human Resources if they have been granted FMLA leave for this reason in the past. 

Human Resources will provide notice to the requestor informing them of whether they are eligible under FMLA, whether any additional information is needed, and what their rights and responsibilities are.

After eligibility has been determined and all necessary information has been provided, Human Resources will inform the requestor whether the leave qualifies for FMLA protection.  Please see the handout Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under the Family and Medical Leave Act for additional information.

Sec. 5.14    Parental/Adoption Leave — Employees are entitled to a leave of absence not to exceed 12 weeks due to birth or adoption of a child less than three years of age. Eligible employees must use all appropriate paid leave while taking parental/adoption leave. State compensatory time, holiday time, and administrative leave that are benefits of the State may be counted toward the entitlement.  Employees should provide 30 days written notice stating the intended length of leave to allow for any necessary adjustments to the review schedule.  The use of sick leave by either parent, is strictly limited to those situations clearly falling within the definition of sick leave.

Sec. 5.15    Military Leave; Urban Search and Rescue Leave — An employee who is a member of the Texas National Guard, the Texas State Guard, another active militia or military force organized under state law, a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States, or a state or federally authorized Urban Search and Rescue Team is entitled to 15 workdays’ leave with pay during each federal fiscal year to participate in authorized training or duty ordered or authorized by a proper authority, and approved by the director or designee. During this leave, the employee does not lose balances of other accrued leave, but does not earn vacation or sick leave. The net balance of unused leave under this section carries forward from one federal fiscal year to the next, but the amount of unused leave carried forward may not exceed 45 workdays.

  • An employee who does not use all 15 days of military leave available for use in a federal fiscal year will be allowed to carry forward the unused portion of military leave to the next federal fiscal year, up to a maximum of 45 days to be carried forward.
  • An employee called to federal active duty for the purpose of providing assistance to civil authorities in a declared emergency or for training for that purpose is entitled to receive paid emergency leave for not more than 22 workdays without loss of military leave or vacation leave.

If an employee leaves their state job to enter active duty in the armed forces, Sunset will comply with applicable state and federal laws regarding re-employment.  Upon returning to work, an employee is entitled to have time on active duty included in employment longevity for purposes of vacation and sick leave entitlements.  Employees do not, however, accrue vacation or sick leave while on active duty.  A copy of the order or official directive ordering the employee to active duty must be submitted to Human Resources to be eligible for the above considerations.

Additionally, Sunset shall adjust the work schedule of an employee who is a member of the National Guard or a Reserve Component of the U.S. Armed Forces so that two of the employee’s regular non-work days per month coincide with the two days of military duty to be performed by the employee.

Sec. 5.16    Jury Duty — Sunset expects its employees to fulfill their citizenship obligations and, when called upon, to perform jury duty.  Employees are authorized paid leave for jury duty.  This leave is not subtracted from any other leave accruals.

Employees should notify their Supervisory Home when they receive a jury summons.  A certificate from the judge or court clerk stating the length of time on jury duty should be given to Human Resources upon return to work.  Employees may keep all fees received for their jury service.  Employees may be excused from state jury duty as an employee of a legislative agency.

Sec. 5.17    Witness Duty — If an employee is a witness in a judicial action in an official capacity, they will be given leave with pay to do so.  This leave is not subtracted from any other type of leave.  If an employee is a witness in a private or unofficial capacity, they must take annual leave or do so on their own time.  Employees are not entitled to any reimbursement from the State.  A copy of the letter reflecting the dates required for testimony or other written evidence from an official of the court should be given to Human Resources upon return to work.  Note this time under General Office time on your monthly timesheet.

Sec. 5.18    Blood/Bone Marrow/Organ Donation Leave — A state employee is entitled to time off without a deduction in salary to donate blood not more than four times per fiscal year. An employee is also allowed up to five days per fiscal year to donate bone marrow and up to 30 days to donate an organ.  Employees are responsible for providing proof of donation to Human Resources upon return to work. Note this time under General Office time on your monthly timesheet.

Sec. 5.19    Court Appointed Special Advocates Volunteer (CASA) Leave — A state employee may be granted leave not to exceed five hours each month to participate in mandatory training or perform volunteer services for CASA without a deduction in salary or loss of vacation time, sick leave, earned overtime credit, or state compensatory time. Note this time under General Office time on your monthly timesheet.

Sec. 5.20    Voting Leave — Sunset allows employees up to two hours of time off without a deduction in salary or accrued leave, to vote in each national, state, or local election. Note this time under General Office time on your monthly timesheet.

Sec. 5.21    Firefighter and Emergency Medical Services Volunteer Leave — An employee who is a volunteer firefighter or an emergency medical services volunteer is entitled to leave with pay, without deduction from other leave, to attend fire service or emergency medical services training conducted by a state agency or institution of higher education. The leave is limited to five working days each fiscal year and must be approved by the director or designee in writing in advance. Leave may also be granted to a volunteer firefighter or an emergency medical services volunteer for the purpose of allowing the firefighter or emergency medical services volunteer to respond to emergency fire or medical situations, with the authorization of the director or designee.

Sec. 5.22    Foster Parent’s Leave — A state employee who is a foster parent to a child under the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services is entitled to a leave of absence without a deduction in salary for the purpose of attending meetings held by the Department of Family and Protective Services regarding the child under the foster care of the employee and an admission, review, and dismissal meeting held by a school district regarding the child under the foster care of the employee.

Sec. 5.23    Red Cross Disaster Service Volunteer Leave — A state employee who is a certified disaster service volunteer of the American Red Cross or who is in training to become such a volunteer may, with the authorization of the director or designee, be granted leave to participate in specialized disaster relief services for the American Red Cross, on the request of the American Red Cross and with approval of the governor’s office. The leave may not exceed 10 days each fiscal year and does not subject the employee to loss of pay, vacation time, sick leave, or compensatory time.

Sec. 5.24    Leave During Agency Investigation The director may grant leave with pay to an employee who is the subject of an investigation being conducted by the agency or a victim of, or witness to, an act or event that is the subject of an investigation being conducted by the agency.  The employee is ineligible to receive leave for that reason under any other leave provision.

Sunset must submit a report before the last day of each quarter of the fiscal year to the State Auditor’s Office and the Legislative Budget Board that includes the name of each employee who has been granted 168 hours or more of leave under this provision during that fiscal quarter.

Sec. 5.25   Medical and Mental Health Care Leave For Certain Veterans — A state employee who is a veteran, as defined by Section 434.023(a), Texas Government Code, and is eligible for health benefits under a program administered by the Veterans Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may be granted leave to obtain medical or mental health care administered by that program, including physical rehabilitation.  The leave may be granted with pay and without a loss of vacation time, sick leave, or state compensatory time. Leave under this section may not exceed 15 days each fiscal year except at the discretion of the director.

Sec. 5.26   Assistance Dog Training for Employees With a Disability — An employee who is a person with a disability (Section 121.002, Texas Human Resources Code) is entitled to a leave of absence with full pay for the purpose of attending a training program to acquaint the employee with an assistance dog to be used by the employee.  The leave of absence may not exceed 10 working days in a fiscal year and is in addition to other leave to which an employee is entitled.  The employee continues to accrue vacation and sick leave while on leave.

Sec. 5.27   Amateur Radio Operators for Disaster Relief — (a) A state employee who holds an amateur radio station license issued by the Federal Communications Commission may be granted leave not to exceed 10 days each fiscal year to participate in specialized disaster relief services without a deduction in salary or loss of vacation time, sick leave, or state compensatory time if the leave is taken with the approval of the director.

(b) The number of amateur radio operators who are eligible for leave under this section may not exceed 350 state employees at any one time during a state fiscal year.  The division of emergency management in the governor’s office shall coordinate the establishment and maintenance of the list of eligible employees.