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Interim Fitness Release Time and Wellness Leave Policy

A new Interim Fitness Release Time and Wellness Leave policy, MAPP 02.02.08, has been established to support University of Houston employees in their efforts to improve their health and well-being, and to enhance their work performance and productivity.  The policy is in accordance with the State Employees Health Fitness and Education Act of 1983.

The Fitness Release Time (FRT) policy provides full-time, benefits-eligible employees who have been with the University a minimum of three months from date of hire up to thirty (30) minutes, three times per week, to participate in approved fitness activities offered on the University of Houston Main Campus.  The FRT policy may not interfere with an employee’s duties or a department’s responsibilities.  Supervisor approval is required before an employee may commence any activity under the program.  All time (1.5 hours per week) taken under the policy must be recorded in the Time Reporting and Absence Management (TRAM) system.

The Wellness Leave portion of the policy provides a wellness incentive of eight (8) hours leave to eligible employees who complete an approved Health Risk Assessment and receive an annual comprehensive physical exam.  The wellness leave may be used for any purpose as two half-days or one full day off.  Wellness leave time must be scheduled with supervisor’s approval and cannot be used in conjunction with the College Release Program.

To learn more about eligibility for these programs, requirements for participation and procedures for application, please review the policy MAPP 02.02.08 in its entirety, as well as the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sections on this webpage before requesting Fitness Release Time and/or Wellness Leave.

Application Procedure for Fitness Release Time (FRT)

To qualify for FRT, an eligible employee must complete the FRT Application and the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire.  Please note that, in some cases, additional documentation such as Medical Clearance may be requested.

To request Fitness Release Time, the following steps must be completed:

  1. Print the FRT Application requesting up to thirty (30) minutes, three times per week to participate in POWER UP-approved physical fitness activities on the University of Houston Main Campus.  Complete the form identifying the activities in which you plan to engage as well as the days and times. Discuss the request with your supervisor to determine if the leave is possible.  If so, obtain his/her signature to verify approval of the requested leave for the semester. 
  2. If your supervisor approves the request, print and complete the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) form. You should then scan and email both forms (FRT Application & PAR-Q) to Human Resources at POWERUP@uh.edu. If the request is denied by your supervisor, you may not use Fitness Release Time that semester.
  3. Please answer the questions on the PAR-Q honestly.  If you answer “Yes” to one or more of the questions on the PAR-Q, you will be asked to obtain a Medical Clearance form from your primary care physician indicating clearance to participate in the exercise program/physical fitness activity you have selected.  This form should also be emailed to HR, along with your FRT Application and PAR-Q.
  4. If all requirements are met, your application will be approved by HR, which in turn will notify you and your supervisor. Please retain copies of the FRT Application, PAR-Q, etc. for your records. The original forms will remain on file with Human Resources.
  5. Remember, you must request the time off for FRT for each thirty (30) minute session via the TRAM Absence Request form. (Note: If you are an hourly employee, you must clock out and clock back in when taking FRT>
    To do this, access PASS,

      Select Absence Requests

    • enter Start Date
    • under Filter by Type – select Paid Release Time
    • under Absence Name – select CDV Fitness Release Time
    • enter an End Date
    • under Partial Days - select All Days (If days are not sequential, you will need to submit an Absence Request for each day.)
    • Enter .5 Hours
    • Click Calculate Duration
    • Make any comments
    • Click Submit

Remember, if days are not sequential, you must submit an Absence Request for each day.

        6. Remember, if you are an hourly employee, you must clock out and clock back in for each 30 minute period you take.

        7. Your supervisor must approve the time in TRAM. FRT must not exceed thirty (30) minutes, three times per week.

Fitness Release Time FAQs

No. While these are excellent offerings and supervisors are encouraged to allow employees to attend such wellness programs when possible, this policy only applies to physical fitness activities on campus.
No. FRT is only for fitness activities that occur on the UH Main Campus.
No. The FRT cannot be connected to the start or end of the work day. Fitness Release Time is intended to be used within the actual workday.
The policy is in accordance with the State Employees Health Fitness and Education Act of 1983, which provides employees time away from their desks to engage in physical fitness activity for 30 minutes, three (3) times per week. Longer periods of release time could contribute to operational problems and disrupt University business.
No, FRT cannot be connected to one's lunch hour.
With each semester typically comes new challenges (e.g. increased departmental responsibilities, personnel out on vacation, changes in staffing levels, etc.) In addition, you may change departments on campus, decide to participate in a different physical activity than the one you originally selected, or desire to change the time of day or periods of the day that you exercise. Also, your ability to participate in different activities may change over time due to health/wellness-related conditions. For these many reasons, employees are asked to reapply each spring and fall semester.
No, you may apply for FRT at any time. However, you must apply every semester to obtain your supervisor’s approval. Employees interested in participating are encouraged to apply early, just prior to the start of the semester. Please be aware that if you were to apply to participate in November of the fall semester, you would still be required to apply again in the spring for the spring semester.
There is a growing number of formal and informal physical activities that employees can participate in on campus. Examples of informal programs include creating your own walking route or forming a walking club within your department, walking routes throughout your building and taking the stairs. Formal programs include working out at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center (membership required), participating in the Wellness Walks @ Hofheinz and other organized offerings.
On the FRT Application, you will be asked to document a fitness activity of your choosing. As long as it meets the criteria established in the policy and is a reasonable physical fitness exercise that incorporates movement, strength-building and/or elevated heart rate for brief periods of time, it will likely be approved. Activities will be reviewed by the UH Wellness Planning Committee comprised of representatives from across the campus, including professionals in the fields of recreational sports, health and wellness, and medicine, among others.
We ask that employees determine a set time and activity for different reasons including in order to facilitate receiving your supervisor’s approval. However, it is conceivable that schedules will change as well as activities due to work responsibilities, weather conditions, etc. As long as your FRT remains as only 30 minutes, 3 days/week, and the time is not connected to the lunch time or scheduled arrival or leaving time, does not interfere with business operations and, most importantly, you have your supervisor’s approval – you may alter the schedule you have selected as needed. Our goal is to get and keep you moving!
The Physical Activity Readiness – Questionnaire is used to assess an employee’s ability to participate in this voluntary program. Individuals with a health condition or who have reason (or instruction from their physician) to refrain from certain activities are asked to receive Medical Clearance from their doctor prior to participation in the program.
No. Please do NOT provide HR with any medical information. No personal medical information should be shared with your supervisor or HR for the purpose of this policy. Medical Clearance from your doctor should simply be a signed and dated statement indicating that you are physically able to do the fitness activity you have selected to do. This official form from your doctor should not contain any personal medical information.
Most wellness benefits are designed for current, full-time, benefits-eligible employees. From time to time, activities will be open to UH retirees and in the future will be promoted as such. Retirees will be able to participate in these as long as they meet program requirements and sign/provide any required documentation.
Yes. Both exempt and non-exempt employees must request the time off for FRT for each thirty (30) minute session via the Time Reporting and Absence Management (TRAM) system, using the procedure outlined above.
An employee survey conducted in the fall 2015 semester revealed that UH employees want wellness programs and value opportunities to participate in activities that support their health and well-being. To benefit from this policy, employees must track their time using the TRAM system. Supervisors may reduce the time allotted to employees for FRT or eliminate it altogether. Failure to adhere to the guidelines established in the policy may result in corrective action up to and including termination of employment.
Yes. You will receive notification, as will the employee, who is required to log in FRT taken via the TRAM system. Supervisors approve an employee's FRT which must not exceed thirty (30) minutes, three times per week.
While employees can use their lunch breaks to exercise, as many currently do and will continue to do, they now have the option of using this new Interim Policy that provides time up to thirty (30) minutes, three (3) times a week, specifically for physical fitness activities.
Most wellness benefits are designed for current, full-time, benefits-eligible employees only. From time to time, activities will be open to UH retirees and graduate students (e.g. Wellness Walks, Farm to Work), and family members. When such activities are available, they will be promoted as such.

Application Procedure for Wellness Leave

To qualify for the Wellness Leave incentive, an eligible employee must complete an approved online Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and receive an annual comprehensive physical exam.  Please note that while annual physical exams are considered preventive care and are typically covered by one’s insurance plan, you may be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses related to the appointment(s), such as fees charged for additional screens, tests and/or co-pays.

To request Wellness Leave, the following steps must be completed:

  1. Complete a Health Risk Assessment (HRA).  UHC HealthSelect members should complete the RALLY Health Survey at www.myuhc.com/hs.  KelseyCare members should complete the Health Survey at http://www.erskelseycare.com/en-us/self-service/health-risk-assessment.
  2. Upon completion of the HRA, you may receive a personalized report. If so, you may want to print and bring it with you to review with your doctor during your physical exam.  Please note: Do not share the personalized report with your supervisor or HR. Upon completion of the HRA, you will receive a HRA completion email (the completion email is not the same thing as your personalized report). The completion email provides verification that you completed the HRA.  Save a copy of the HRA completion email.  You will need to submit this with your affidavit as part of the application process.
  3. Print the Completed HRA and Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Exam Affidavit and complete the “Health Risk Assessment Certification” section.  
  4. Using sick, vacation or compensatory leave, schedule your physical exam with your doctor’s office.  When you schedule your appointment, ask the physician’s office staff to make note that you will need the physician to sign the designated section of the “Completed HRA and Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Examination Affidavit.”  Be sure to bring the printed form with you.  It will be helpful to provide the office staff with the form when you check in for your appointment.
  5. Before going to your appointment, you may want to review your HRA personalized report again and take it with you to the appointment. Make notes of the topics you will discuss with your physician.  Before you leave your appointment, be sure that your physician has signed the “Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Exam” section of the Completed HRA and the Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Exam Affidavit.
  6. Inform your supervisor of having met the qualifications for Wellness Leave and obtain the supervisor’s signature on the Affidavit.  Remember, you are not required to nor should you share with your supervisor or HR any personal medical information from your HRA or physician’s visit.  Only the documentation listed here should be submitted to HR.
  7. Review the affidavit to ensure that it is complete. Then, scan and email a copy of the HRA completion email and the Completed Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Exam Affidavit to HR at POWERUP@uh.edu.
  8. HR will review the documentation and, if all requirements are met, will notify you and your supervisor via email of your successful completion of the requirements for eight (8) hours wellness leave.  The notification will provide guidance for both the employee and supervisor in regard to how the leave should be processed.

Wellness Leave FAQs               

What is an approved Health Risk Assessment (HRA)?  
A health risk assessment is a brief wellness tool used to provide individuals with an evaluation of their individual health risks and quality of life. 

Where can I find the approved HRA? 
The approved HRA for United HealthCare HealthSelect members is the RALLY Health Survey which can be found by logging into your myuhc.com account: www.myuhc.com/hs The approved health risk assessment for KelseyCare members can be found here: https://memberportal.communitycares.com/hra/

What do I do after I complete the HRA? 
After completion of the HRA, employees should print their personalized results report (if available to print) to share with their doctor during their Comprehensive Physical Exam.  Also, after completing the HRA, employees will receive a HRA completion email (the completion email is not the same thing as the personalized results report).  This email should be saved and copied for your records and then scanned and sent to HR along with the Completed Health Risk Assessment and Physician’s Certification of Routine Physical Exam Affidavit. These two documents are required to qualify for the Wellness Leave incentive.

Members of KelseyCare who complete their online Health Risk Assessment will receive a confirmation email shortly after indicating that the health survey has been completed.  Effective August 1st, UHC HealthSelect members who complete the Rally Health Survey will receive a confirmation email within two business days.  (Currently, the confirmation email takes up to five business days.)  With a revised subject line, “You’ve completed your health survey on Rally,” the confirmation email will be easy to spot!

Your HRA confirmation email should be saved, and then scanned to submit to HR with your completed Affidavit to qualify for and request Wellness Leave.

I have insurance through my spouse and don’t have either of the health plans listed. Am I still eligible to take advantage of the FRT and Wellness Leave Policy?  If so, what HRA should I complete?
Yes, you may still apply for and receive FRT and Wellness Leave provided all policy requirements have been met.  Most insurance carriers provide employees with an online Health Risk Assessment.  Once you complete it, you should receive a confirmation email that you can submit to HR to verify that you have completed it.  However, in the event that you may not, you may want to take a screenshot of the last page of the HRA that clearly shows that you have completed the health survey.  Should you not receive the confirmation email, you can instead scan and submit the completion screenshot to HR, along with the completed Affidavit.

Do I need to submit the results from my HRA or Comprehensive Physical Exam to HR?
No.  Please do NOT provide HR with any medical information.  No personal medical information should be shared with your supervisor or HR for the purpose of this policy.  The HRA completion email and the Affidavit do not ask for and should not contain any personal medical information.

What is a Comprehensive Physical Exam? 
The Comprehensive Physical Exam is a customized exam that includes a medical history, physical examination, wellness counseling and screening tests based on the patient’s health status, risk factors, and personal and family history.

What purpose does the Health Risk Assessment and Comprehensive Physical Exam serve?
The HRA is an evaluation tool that provides an employee insight into personal health risks and provides recommendations to promote health, sustain function and/or prevent disease.  The annual Comprehensive Physical Exam is a vital part of preventative health care and overall wellness.  Taking it is an important step to help prevent illnesses, injuries and other health issues that may arise in the future.  This new interim policy is designed to support employees in their efforts to prevent disease and improve/maintain good health and overall well-being.

What if I just had a routine physical exam?  Can I still receive the incentive this year? 
Eligible employees who have had a comprehensive physical exam within 6 months prior to the release of this policy may request Wellness Leave provided they complete the approved HRA and can provide signed/dated documentation from their physician verifying the comprehensive physical exam occurred within the past 6 months.

How do I record my time off for the exam? 
Employees should use sick leave for the purposes of receiving their Comprehensive Physical Exam.  Vacation or compensatory time may also be used.

Can I take the time whenever I want
The Wellness Leave incentive must be taken within 12 months of being awarded by HR.  It cannot be used in conjunction with the College Release Program.  Scheduling of Wellness Leave must be done with your supervisor’s approval.

After I confer with my supervisor and receive approval to use the incentive on a particular day/s, how do I record my time off?  
When you claim your eight (8) hours Wellness Leave incentive, you may take the time in two blocks of four (4) hours or one block of eight (8) hours.  You will use the same instructions provided above for Fitness Release Time; instead of selecting Absence Name “CDV Fitness Release Time,” you will select “Wellness Leave.”

(For Supervisors) If my employee is approved for Wellness Leave, will I be notified?  How will the time be awarded and tracked? 
Yes.  You and the employee will both receive notification of the Wellness Leave incentive award.  Please note, for Wellness Leave, that the 8 hours awarded can be taken in 1 full day or 2 half days with the supervisor’s approval.  Also, please be aware that Peoplesoft will not automatically track balances for Wellness Leave. Therefore, it is required that the supervisor keep track of the employee’s balances of the leave for the incentive.

 If you have additional questions regarding the Interim Fitness Release Time and Wellness Leave Policy, please contact Human Resources Customer Service at 713 743-3988, or email us at POWERUP@uh.edu.