HR Communications e-NewsletterAugust 2013



Benefits Announcements

Deadline August 31st to Certify Tobacco Use and Avoid Higher Monthly Premiums

You have until August 31st to certify your non-use of tobacco to avoid additional monthly premium charges, which can be as high as $90 per month, per household.

If you have already certified, you do not have to certify again unless you or your dependents’ status as tobacco users or non-users changes.  Find more information about changing your status and other details of the tobacco policy at the ERS Question & Answer page.

To certify, sign in to your ERS account and complete the certification steps. You can also call ERS toll-free at (866) 399-6908.

Don’t Be Fooled – Make Sure Your URGENT CARE Center Qualifies

Be aware that some primary care physicians (PCPs) are calling their clinics “urgent care centers,” even though they are not credentialed as such.  This is particularly true in areas of Texas where there are no urgent care centers available.  Employees are utilizing these PCP clinics and offices as urgent care centers, only to find out later that the services they received will not be paid at in-network benefit levels. Make sure to verify that your urgent care center qualifies as a credentialed urgent care center in advance of potential use.

HealthSelectSM of Texas members can get guidance on whether to visit a PCP, urgent care center, or hospital emergency room by calling myNurseLineSM toll-free at (877) 731-8306. Registered nurses are available to help 24/7, at no extra cost to members.

Retirement Series Lunch and Learn

First Steps, Lasting Effects (HRTV19)
(Presented by Lincoln Financial)

When: Wed, August 28, 12pm – 1pm
Where: 341 McElhinney (map)

Lunch will be provided to registered participants.

Description: This workshop is about you, your future, and how you can prepare now so that retirement can be one of the BEST parts of your life. And that means preparing for a retirement that is financially secure, giving you the freedom to enjoy your retirement years exactly as you’d like.

Additional Benefits Annoucnements

Enroll Newborns for Health Insurance Coverage within 31 Days of Birth

Changes and Updates to Short and Long Term Disability

Access ERS – Instructions for Employees on Explorer Version 10

Drug Deductible Starts Over September 1st

Changes in TexFlex Day Care Expenses

Compensation Announcements

Merit Guidelines and Decisions Finalized

The FY2014 merit guidelines have been established and can be reviewed on the Human Resources website at Merit Guidelines. Letters will be going out in the next few weeks to notify employees of any merit they may expect to receive in the new fiscal year. All merit increases will be effective September 1, 2013.

Time to do a Goal Check for ePerformance

The start of the fall semester is a great time to touch base on your individual and department goals for the year to see if you are on target.  It is easy to get sidetracked and time slips away even for the best planners.  Take a moment and review your goals, determine where you are right now, and make a 30, 60, and 90 day plan.  Talk to your supervisor and get any clarification, support or resources you may need to be successful.  The current evaluation period will end December 2013 and ePerformance documents will be due in March 2014.

Payroll Announcements

TRAM Pilot Moving Forward

Thanks to the support and work of our pilot groups in Facilities and UHPD the TRAM (Time Reporting & Absence Management) project is moving forward.   The pilot groups, together with Human Resources and Information Technology, have learned a lot as they test and refine the new process for rollout to the campus community.  We appreciate the patience and support of the campus community as we continue to identify areas for improvement, update training, and identify the rollout schedule for fall.  Look for more information on TRAM in September.

Training & Development

New Supervisory Training Being Developed

The HR Training Team has been working with Staff Council this summer to develop a new supervisor training program designed to increase the knowledge and effectiveness of campus leaders. It is not uncommon for supervisors to come into the role without training or former experience, and we want to ensure they are trained and supported so they can be successful and avoid common new-supervisor pitfalls that could impact their effectiveness, as well as affect the employee and even the University. This fall, HR will introduce a collection of online and instructor-led trainings that all supervisors and managers will be required to take during the next year. We are excited about this program and look forward to rolling it out to the campus community in September.

Upcoming Public Training

Retirement 101 (HRT039): August 22 from 2:00 – 3:30,

First Steps, Lasting Effects (HRTV19): August 28 from 12:00 to 1:00

Coaching, Discipline & Documentation (HRCDD: September 19 from 9:00 – 11:00

Request Training for Your Department or College

In addition to the training offered on our public calendar, the training team can bring customized training to you and your colleagues.  To request training go to Training Request Form .


The Human Resources Team is here to assist you with all your HR needs.  In an effort to serve you better, please use the Employee Service Center as your start point when coming to HR.  All appointment check-ins, information inquiries and employment document finalizations should start at the Employee Service Center in 325 McElhinney, located as you exit the elevator on the 3rd floor. Representatives will assist you directly or make sure you are directed to the right person.

Contact Information: Phone 713-743-3988 or EMAIL at
Customer Service Feedback:
Communications and Updates:

Please contact the HR Employee Service Center for any questions 713-743-3988 or via email at .  Angie, Mindy and Jose are ready to assist you.

Previous HR Announcements, In Case You Missed Them!

Pre-paid Legal Services and Identity Theft Protection for UH Employees

Employees of UH and its component campuses can now get discounted rates on legal services, including:

  • Legal consultation
  • Assistance with wills, home purchases, contracts, and power of attorney
  • Identity theft protection
  • Credit monitoring
  • And much more!
For additional information, please go to the LegalShield website or contact Neil McGlone at 832-547-7040.

Human Resources Unveils New Website

Take a moment and check out the new HR website at we want your feedback on the site so let us hear from you

Final Stage of 2012 ePerformance Process Begins

Managers have been notified to begin rating employee’s performance for 2012.  The deadline for managers to complete all 2012 ePerformance documents is April 1, 2013.  For more information on the performance management process go to: Performance and Communication Resources

Staff Excellence Award Nominations Now Open

Each year the University honors a select group of employees through the Staff Excellence Awards. Nominations are now open and we encourage each college and department to nominate exceptional staff. This year’s awards will be presented to outstanding staff members at an awards ceremony held in May. If you are interested in nominating a UH staff member for consideration, please go to the HR Employee Recognition page: Human Resources/Employee Recognition and read the guidelines and FAQs provided to learn more about the process.

Emerging Excellence is Now Accepting Applications for the Spring 2013 Program

This program designed for new managers or supervisors is a great opportunity to learn techniques for managing others and network with managers or supervisors across the campus. You can learn more about the Impact Series: Emerging Excellence as well as download an application on the Impact Series HR Training Site under Learning Opportunities.

Free Blaffer Art Museum Memberships & Cultured Cocktails for Faculty and Staff

Blaffer Art Museum and University of Houston’s Human Resources Department have teamed up to offer all UH staff and faculty complimentary memberships to the museum! As a member you have access to a variety of resources at this internationally-renowned facility right here on campus and together we want to make sure you get the most out of your complimentary staff/faculty membership!

Faculty and staff are invited to join us for Cultured Cocktails. The Cultured Cocktails events will offer you the opportunity to meet other staff and faculty on campus while you enjoy a drink in the University of Houston’s internationally renowned contemporary art museum.  End your work day and let out some of that creative energy through casual gallery interactions and a hands-on project that will help you find your creative spirit.

Each Cultured Cocktails event has limited availability and requires an RSVP. We will meet in the Blaffer Art Museum Lounge located in the lobby. Call 713.743.9521 and reserve your spot today for one of our upcoming evenings: Thursdays @5:00 on February 28, March 28, April 18, May 30, June 27 and July 25.

Emergency Update Notification System

The University of Houston Outdoor Warning Siren System is designed to alert persons on campus of an emergency situation that requires them to seek shelter indoors for their safety. The UH Outdoor Warning Siren System will only be used when there is an imminent threat to the lives and safety of people on the UH campus where it is unsafe to be outdoors. This threat could come in the form of severe weather, criminal violence, such as an active shooter on campus, or an environmental threat such as a hazardous chemical release, or some other emergency situation. To ensure you receive emergency email notifications and text messages, please verify your information in the myUH system (faculty/staff instructions | student instructions). Also, go to for emergency information.

Free Personal Health & Wellness Coaching From UH Wellness

UH faculty and staff can now access this new free service offered UH Wellness.  Personal Health & Wellness Coaching is designed to help you make changes in your life: Lose weight; stop smoking; reduce stress; eat healthier; manage a health issue or just move forward and find balance. Call Reuben Parrish @ 713.743.5430 for more information or to make an appointment.

Benefits Announcements

Disability Claim Form updated

We've updated the Disability Claim Form for Short- and Long-term Disability Insurance and it is available from Dearborn National® Life Insurance Company, which administers these benefits. To see the form, click Resource Center on the Dearborn website. A few higher education institutions offer in-house administered Short-term Disability Insurance plans through other carriers, so we've revised the form to ask about additional coverage. See more information on filing claims.

Tobacco User Certification

Under state law effective last January 1, 2012, tobacco users enrolled in a state health plan will pay higher premiums for their health insurance. When you make changes to your benefits on line in ERS, you will be prompted to certify if you are tobacco use or not.  In the event you certify that you are a tobacco user erroneously, you can correct the selection. However, ERS will not refund premiums that have already been deducted from your paycheck due to this error.  Please be careful when answering the tobacco user certification pop-up.

HealthSelect – Important Benefit Tips

HealthSelectSM of Texas members should remember the following about out-of-pocket maximums and other benefit information. More>>

TIAA-CREF on campus February 12th

On February 12, 2013, a representative of TIAA-CREF, Kevin Porter, will be on campus from 9-4pm (by appointment only) in the HR Service Center Room 325 McElhinney to provide interested employees with objective advice on their financial and retirement planning.   If you would to meet with Mr. Porter, please schedule your personalized consultation by contacting the TIAA-CREF Houston Local Office at 832/681-7400 (press 5 for assistance) or by Emailing Kevin at

Training Updates

What is U-Learn?

U-Learn, the HR component designed for staff to enhance skills for professional and personal development.  U-Learn offers a variety of courses and opportunities to assist employees with reaching their goals.  U-Learn offers classroom, customized and online options.  We encourage you to view all of the tools available to you as an employee at the University of Houston. U - Learn: Learning Opportunities

Request Customized Learning for Your Team

Life - long learning is the goal! The HR U-Learn team is available for consultation and to design customized training just for your team: Customized Learning Request Form

Learning Anytime, Anyplace with Skillport eLearning

This month HR is featuring Skillport eLearning offerings that you can do from your desk or from home. Check these training courses (all 60 minutes or less).

  • Retaining Top Performers (ID: mgmt_33_a02_bs_enus)
  • Managing Performance   (ID:  _pc_ch_lach002)
  • Having a Difficult Conversation   (ID: mgmt_36_a02_bs_enus)
  • Managing Attitudes during Difficult Times   (ID:     mgmt_25_a03_bs_enus)
  • The Art of Effective Coaching   (ID: _pc_bi_lsbi018)
Please also check out the new Skillsoft NASBA CPE Program!

UH SkillPort eLearning Train Anytime from Your Desk or Home!

Previous HR Announcements

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Review Notice

The University of Houston prohibits the unlawful possession, use, manufacture, or distribution of illicit drugs in the workplace, on campus, or at any University Activities. Penalties for violation of this policy are indicated in the document linked below:

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy

The University of Houston conducts a biannual review of its drug and alcohol policies. Additional information in the document linked below:

Biennial Review


The University of Houston has an obligation to ensure that all employees know and adhere to federal and state laws and university policies. All university employees must complete the annual training requirement by November 30, 2012. For more information, please go to the Mandatory Training Webpage.


Sterling McCall Ford is offering all employees and students at the University of Houston an employee deal! Buy your next car or truck at the Ford Giant located at 6445 Southwest Freeway, show your current Employee or Student ID and get the same discount that Sterling McCall's employees get. Call 281-588-5000 and ask about the UH-VIP Promotion, or drop by and browse the lot from 9 am - 9 pm Monday - Thursday or 9 am - 8 pm Friday - Saturday.

Previous Benefits Updates

403b Limits -- Retirement Manager Notices

In an effort to ensure that you do not exceed your maximum allowed tax deferred annuity benefit for the year, the Retirement Manager ( ) may send you a notice to inform you that your contributions are being reduced and/or stopped.  In the event you receive one of these notices and believe it to be in error, please contact Deanna Holmes (713/743-3988) in the Benefits Department to review your account contributions with you.

Please be advised that you have 2 more paychecks for the calendar year 2012.  In the event you wish to make changes to your 403b, your cut off dates is November 12, 2012.

Flu Shot Cost Varies

The health plans in the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program cover preventive flu shots differently, depending on where participants get the shots. The shots are free if they go to their primary care physicians, as long as the providers bill only for an office visit. However, the shots are not free if participants go to pharmacies, because the shots are covered under the medical benefit and not the prescription benefit. If flu shots are offered at the worksite, participants will pay the cost set by the flu shot provider. HealthSelectSM of Texas and other health plans may contract with flu shot providers for this service. The shots may be free, depending on the agreement between the health plan and provider.

Free Onsite Flu Shot Clinics for HealthSelect Participants

UnitedHealthcare, HealthSelectSM of Texas’ third party administrator, has contracted with national vendors to provide onsite flu shot clinics. Services are covered at 100% as preventive and will be paid through the HealthSelect plan. More>>

HealthSelect Offers Vision Benefits

HealthSelectSM of Texas participants are covered for one routine eye exam for $40 copay per calendar year. More>>

Changes Reflected in October Paycheck

Plan Year 2013 premium changes and any changes you made to your TexFlex contribution during Annual Enrollment will be reflected in the paycheck you receive in October. Dependent health premium rates went up while Optional Term Life rates went down. Also, if you have membership dues automatically deducted for an organization, such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, those organization dues may have changed on September 1 and will be reflected in your October paycheck. If you have questions about dues, please call the organization, not ERS.

More than One Health Plan, Show Both ID Cards

If you have coverage under more than one health plan, including TRICARE, don't forget to show the ID cards from both plans when you get medical care.

Save money with HealthSelect

HealthSelectSM of Texas can help participants save money on health care. More>>


The Human Resources Team is here to assist you with all your HR needs.  In an effort to serve you better, please use the Customer Service Center as your start point when coming to HR.  All appointment check-ins, information inquiries and employment document finalizations should start at the Customer Service Center in 325 McElhinney, located as you exit the elevator on the 3rd floor. Representatives will assist you directly or make sure you are directed to the right person.

Contact Information: Phone 713-743-3988 or EMAIL at

Shasta Hoffman

Philip G. Hoffman

UH President, 1961 - 1977

"Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries." To order a higher resolution reproduction, see