News & Notes

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January 13, 2014

Changes Coming to TRS Retirement Eligibility 8-31-2014 Five-Year Requirement

Beginning September 1, 2014, any person failing to have at least five years of service credit in TRS on August 31, 2014, or any person who becomes a member of TRS on or after September 1, 2014, including members who terminate membership in TRS by withdrawal of accumulated contributions on or after September 1, 2014, and then later resume membership, will be affected by the changes made to service retirement eligibility criteria by Senate Bill 1458, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013. Under the changes made by this bill, in order to be eligible for a service retirement annuity, unreduced for early-age, a member must meet one of the following criteria:
 
age 65 with at least five years of service credit, or
age 62 with at least five years of service credit and meet the Rule of 80 (age and years of service credit total at least 80).
 
Members who have at least five years of service credit in TRS on August 31, 2014 and who do not terminate TRS membership by withdrawal of accumulated contributions after that date, will retain the retirement eligibility requirements established in Section 824.202, Texas Government Code, as that section existed prior to September 1, 2014.
 
In order to be exempted from the changes to retirement eligibility requirements, eligible members may purchase USERRA*, withdrawn, unreported (including substitute service), and/or worker’s compensation service credit by August 31, 2014, to meet the five years of service credit in TRS requirement by that date. If a member has any of the aforementioned service, the member is encouraged to contact TRS as soon as possible. Service credit must actually be credited (paid in-full) in the retirement system on or before August 31, 2014, to be counted towards meeting the five years of service credit requirement.
 
A TRS member on August 31, 2014, who also has service credit in a retirement system that participates in the proportionate retirement program may combine service credit in the other system with TRS service credit as of August 31, 2014, in order to meet the five years of service credit requirement. Service credit in a retirement system that participates in the proportionate retirement program may be used even if the member has retired from the other system or if the service is granted as “time only credit” in the other system. Members must notify TRS of the service in the other system prior to retirement for it to be considered for meeting TRS eligibility criteria.
 
For more detailed information about retirement eligibility requirements or the proportionate retirement program, please refer to the TRS Benefits Handbook on the TRS website .
 
*TRS will include any qualifying USERRA service, up to a maximum of five years, rendered on or before August 31, 2014, in determining if a member met the five years of service credit requirement on August 31, 2014, even if it is not purchased. However, a member must meet all of the requirements to purchase the USERRA service credit before it can be used in this manner. In addition, a member must maintain membership in TRS until retirement for USERRA service, purchased or not purchased, to be considered toward meeting the five years of service credit requirement as of August 31, 2014. In order to meet the five years of service credit requirement using qualifying USERRA service rendered on or before August 31, 2014, that was not purchased, a member must verify the service with TRS prior to retirement. For more information about USERRA service and the requirements to purchase USERRA service, please see the TRS Service Credit brochure on the TRS website.

Tina M. Pennington
Senior Human Resources Representative
Texas A&M University at Galveston

January 06, 2014

Happy New Year!  The Department of Human Resources would like to notify you that the Spring session of the 2013-2014 Supervisor/Employee Development Certification workshops will begin on January 23, 2014.  This program is open to all employees who are interested in development opportunities and/or refresher training.  Please visit the link below to view a complete listing of topics and dates, as well as, the Spring 2014 registration form.  If you would like to register for these workshops, registration is now open!  For those of you who participated in the Fall 2013 session, please confirm your attendance at the Spring session and remember you must complete 15 of the 18 workshops in order to receive certification: 

2013-2014 Supervisor/Employee Development Certification

We are looking forward to seeing you there.  Thank you,

Human Resources

Texas A&M University at Galveston

October 2, 2013 

Recycling on campus

As a new school year has begun, please take note there are 3 RECYCLING ONLY dumpsters located around campus.  These dumpsters are GREEN in color.  PLEASE DO NOT PUT TRASH IN THESE DUMPSTERS.

Acceptable materials for these dumpsters include:

- Paper

- Plastic

- Cardboard

- Aluminum

NO WOOD, NO GLASS, NO FOREIGN METALS (brass, copper, steel, etc.), NO STYROFOAM OR POLYSTYRENE

Recently, someone unloaded FURNITURE and WOODEN PALLETS into the recycling dumpster located in D Lot (across from CLB).  This dumpster is now CONTAMINATED and requires special handling for disposal.

Trash should be placed in the appropriate dumpsters on campus.  If you have any questions about locations of TRASH dumpsters, please contact the Facilities Services Office at ext. 4547.  Their office staff will be more than helpful in locating an appropriate dumpster for your trash needs.

Tina M. Pennington
Senior Human Resources Representative

September 30, 2013

University Wellness Initiative ActivityCan you Walk Across Texas?                       YES YOU CAN!
Join your fellow Sea Aggies in accepting the challenge to Walk Across (WAT) Texas.  All over Texas people are accepting the challenge to walk across the Great State—830 miles. But, don’t worry. It’s not really across the whole State of Texas, and you don’t have to do it alone. Grab some friends and appoint a Captain . . . or appoint yourself captain and recruit a team . . . or just walk solo. It doesn’t really matter how you do it—only that you do! And get this . . . You don’t have to WALK! There’re are cool little apps to calculate into steps/miles other activities like dancing, or biking, or mowing your lawn, or Pilates, or basketball or whatever. Use the online app or download one for your phone. For 8 weeks, teams of eight (or fewer) will be walking, running, swimming, skating, kick boxing, and dancing their way to WAT miles. Who will have the coolest team name? Who has the oldest total age? Youngest average age? Best slogan? Best theme song? Well, we’ll be looking for any and everything for eight weeks to make the WAT as interesting as possible. Contact Mary Bentz at bentzm@tamug.edu, or at x-4061 for more info or to sign up your team!

September 27, 2013

2013 State Employee Charitable Contribution (SECC) gears up. This year, the university introduces its first ever State Employee Charitable Contribution Departmental Donation Competition. To view information about SECC events go to:
MORE

September 13, 2013

State Employee Charitable Contribution 2013- “SECC Departmental Donation Competition”This year we are introducing TAMUG’s first ever “SECC Departmental Donation Competition”.  This is a fun way to become more involved in the State Employee Charitable Campaign and to generate additional contributions for many amazing and worthwhile charitable organizations.  Employees within participating departments can come up with a theme for which to create a basket, bowl, vase, bin, bag, etc. for auctioning off during the SECC Silent Auction or even donate a random item(s).  The department whose donation generates the highest bid will receive an engraved trophy and of course full “Bragging Rights”!
The winning department will be announced in the Sea Aggie Daily following the silent auction and the trophy will be hand delivered (accompanied by an assortment of pastries) for display in your office.
If your department would like to participate, please let Jennifer Adams know as soon as possible. Donations should be submitted to the HR Department no later than September 25th so that items can be photographed and added to the SECC Silent Auction site.

September 12, 2013


From Jeffrey Boyer, Executive Director of Human Resources
FMLA Reminder
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is federal legislation that allows an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave during a fiscal year for a number of reasons including a serious health condition of the employee or to care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition.
A serious health condition can be, but is not limited to, any "illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition" that involves an overnight stay in a hospital, or continuing treatment by a health care provider including incapacity of more than three consecutive full calendar days.
In order to remain in compliance with the provisions of the FMLA, it is important that HR be notified immediately when these circumstances exist. 
Should you have further questions, please contact Tina at 409-740-4534.


September 11, 2013


From Jeff Boyer, Executive Director of Human Resources
Using Sick Leave for Parent-Teacher Conferences and other Educational Activities 
The new school year is upon us, and with it comes a barrage of things and we are pleased to announce that a state-authorized leave benefit has been expanded to help parents even more. The Texas Legislature through House Bill 480 recently expanded the use of sick leave beyond just parent-teacher conferences to include educational activities.  “Educational activity” as defined in the legislation means a school sponsored activity including parent-teacher conference, tutoring, a volunteer program, a field trip, a classroom project, a school committee meeting, an academic completion, and an athletic, music or theater program. Texas A&M rules allow employees to use up to eight hours of accrued sick leave, with reasonable advance notice, per fiscal year to attend educational activities for their children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2013

From Tina Pennington, Senior Human Resources Representative
Once again a new school year is upon us.  I would like to welcome the new faculty, staff, and graduate student assistants who have joined TAMUG this fall.  HOWDY!
I have a few benefit housekeeping items to go over with so many new people around campus.
1. ALL CURRENT BENEFITS-ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES: Benefits initialization for FY14 took place at the beginning of this week.  Please take a couple of minutes to log into your SSO account (HRConnect – Benefits Data) to verify the changes you made during annual enrollment processed properly.  IF YOU SEE ANY ERRORS, CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY. 
2. FOR NEW FACULTY/STAFF/GRAD STUDENT ASSISTANTS: For those of you who are benefits-eligible, if you have not already received notice, you will soon receive an email from “iBenefits Automation” letting you know your New Employee Benefit Document is ready and available via iBenefits (in Single Sign On).  For all 9/1 new hires, you will have until 10/31 to make your benefit selections in the system to ensure you have the benefits you want come 12/1 (SGIP benefit eligibility date).
3. FOR NEW FULL-TIME FACULTY ONLY: Many of you will be receiving a packet of paperwork from me next week regarding your potential eligibility for the ORP (Optional Retirement Program) in lieu of being in TRS (Teacher Retirement System of Texas).  For those of you receiving this packet, you will have 90 calendar days to decide whether you want to remain in TRS or switch to ORP.  Whatever you decide, your decision is PERMANENT.  There will be an acknowledgement form included in the packet.  You will be required to sign this form and return it to my attention in the HR office.  By signing this form, you are acknowledging your receipt of the packet.
4. FOR NEW GRADUATE STUDENT ASSISTANTS: Be sure you check your student billing account to make sure you do not have student health insurance added to your bill.  You are now eligible for the insurance via payroll deduct versus being on your student bill.  Additionally, as an employee, you are eligible for the SGIP supplement that begins 12/1.  IF you need the insurance to begin as of 9/1, you will have to pay $106.42 per month (September – November).  You WILL NOT notice a change in your payroll until your JANUARY 2014 paycheck.
5. FOR ALL EMPLOYEES: All TAMUG employees are eligible to participate in the voluntary Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) program.  The University has a list of approved vendors to choose from and monthly contributions can be as low as $30, deducted directly from your paycheck.  If you would like to begin a new TDA account or make changes to an existing account, please contact me.  There are both A&M forms and vendor forms that I need in order to properly process your deduction.  Unlike TRS or ORP, the TDA program is strictly voluntary.  You are NOT required to participate.  HOWEVER, it never hurts to have an extra “nest egg” set aside for retirement.
Again, I’d like to welcome all new employees to TAMUG and send a HOWDY! shout-out to all current & returning faculty, staff, and graduate student assistants.  Let’s have a great year and don’t forget, if you have questions about your benefits, please let me know.  I am here to help.
Gig’em!

From Jeff Boyer, Executive Director of Human Resources
Notice of Non-discrimination and Abuse
Reporting Violations or Making Inquiries Regarding Equal Opportunity and Non-discrimination (including sexual harassment)
Texas A&M University at Galveston provides equal opportunity to all employees, students, applicants for employment or admission, and the public regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, genetic information or veteran status. Texas A&M University at Galveston will promptly investigate all complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, and related retaliation in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. Further, Texas A&M University at Galveston will strive to maintain a work and educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. For more information, go to http://www.tamug.edu/hrd/Title%20IX.html

From Jeff Boyer, Executive Director of Human Resources
Be Aware of Federal and State Laws
As an employee of Texas A&M University at Galveston, you need to be aware of the Federal and State laws, and system regulations that affect you in the workplace.  For your convenience, required employee notices and important reminders may be viewed at the following link:  http://employees.tamu.edu/employees/notices.aspx

From Jeffrey Boyer, Executive Director of Human Resources
Educational Release Time
Just a reminder that if you are a staff member enrolled as a student in an approved graduate or undergraduate degree program, you may be released up to three (3) hours per week to attend courses during normal work hours.
The provisions of this program are detailed in SAP 31.99.01.M0.01 - Educational Release Time Program and may be accessed at http://rules-saps.tamu.edu/PDFs/31.99.01.M0.01.pdf .  An approved release form is required each semester and must be forwarded to HR for inclusion in the employees’ personnel file.  The form may be found at http://www.tamug.edu/hrd/LinksAndForms/EducationalReleaseTime.pdf .

From Tina Pennington, Senior Human Resources Representative
Holiday Schedule
For the TAMUG HOLIDAY Schedule, go to http://www.tamug.edu/hrd/Benefits/Index.html