Education Assistance Program

FLORIDA STATUTE 112.063

112.063 Reimbursement of county employees for educational expenses. – County constitutional officers and county commissioners are authorized to reimburse employees for educational expenses, subject to the following conditions:

(1) The coursework must be designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities relating to official duties which the employees perform.

(2) The reimbursement of educational expenses in no way obligates the officer or commissioner to grant time off or leave for the taking or completion of such course or program of instruction.

(3) An employee shall not be permitted to utilize any space, personnel, equipment, or supplies of the office by which he or she is employed in the process of fulfilling any of the requirements imposed by the coursework for which he or she is being reimbursed.

(4) The limitations contained in subsections (1)-(3) shall not be construed to apply to any courses offered by or as a part of an educational program sponsored by any state agency for which the constitutional officer or commissioner is obligated to perform duties prescribed by law, or any educational program conducted in furtherance of s. 195.002, if such limitations did not exist prior to July 1, 1990.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting employees from receiving otherwise authorized per diem expenses provided for by s. 112.061, nor shall it be construed as prohibiting the payment of wages otherwise due under the provisions of state or federal law.

History – s. 1, ch. 90-80; s. 686, ch. 95-147.

I. PURPOSE

To provide a policy and procedure allowing employees who successfully complete approved courses of instruction to receive reimbursement for tuition costs.

II. OBJECTIVE

By providing encouragement and financial assistance to county employees who successfully complete courses of instruction that will improve their effectiveness in their current positions or which may allow promotional advancement within their present career field with Hamilton County Government, the services and assistance to the citizens of Hamilton County will be enhanced. Funds for this program will be subject to approval each fiscal year by the Board of County Commissioners.

III. POLICY

A. Eligibility

1. All eligible employees will be given fair and equitable consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disabled status.

2. Any regular full time employee who has successfully completed one year of continuous service and is on active employee status at the time of application for assistance and upon completion of the courses. Note: An employee will not be reimbursed if he or she leaves the employ of the County before completing the course or before reimbursement can be processed.

3. Participation in the program by the employee is voluntary.

4. Eligibility for reimbursement must be established prior to the first day of class.

5. In order to receive reimbursement, the employee must successfully pass the course(s) and present a certificate or proof of completion. A passing grade for reimbursement purposes shall be considered a grade of “C” or higher or “Pass” when used in lieu of a letter grade.

6. In instances of limited funding due to budgetary constraints, applications will be considered on the basis of first filed based on the date/time stamp of the BOCC.

B. Types of Courses Covered

1. The covered courses must have a reasonable relationship to the employee’s present job, possible future assignment or promotion, or a degree program that is relevant to the employee’s job.

2. The course must be offered at an accredited secondary school, college, university, business school, technical institute, or trade school.

3. Correspondence or online courses may be approved provided the content of the course is equivalent to that of an on-site university course and the school is fully accredited.

4. Tuition assistance will apply only to those courses for which the employee is not receiving other total financial aid such as fellowships, scholarships, private foundation grants, and governmental educational assistance (GI Bill). Where tuition expenses are paid in part, the employee may apply for reimbursement for those tuition expenses not otherwise covered.

5. In the event that a class is cancelled or rescheduled, an alternate class may be selected. However, the employee must repeat the approval process within two weeks after the course start date.

6. Expenses for management seminars, professional meetings, and other external seminars or training are not reimbursable under this policy. While this type of continuing education is encouraged, such training is provided for under the department’s budget at the discretion of the Department Head.

C. Attendance of Course

1. The time spent in attending class and completing coursework is not allowed to count as hours worked for compensation purposes.

2. Course work must be accomplished outside the employee’s normal work schedule, unless the Department Head approves the use of accumulated annual or compensatory leave if classes are offered at no other time and arrangements can be made to the satisfaction of the supervisor.

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