EFFECTIVE DATE: September 06, 2019
ISSUE #: 3
PRESIDENT: Juan Sánchez Muñoz
This PS describes the University of Houston-Downtown's (UHD) return-to-work program for
employees who have sustained injuries or illnesses on the job.
There are no definitions associated with this policy.
3.1 The University's return-to-work program requires that an employee be able to return to
regular duty and perform all of the major and essential functions of their job. In specific
instances when a faculty member is released to return to work but because of timing is
not able to go into the classroom, there may be other options available to the faculty
member, which will require the approval of their department chair, dean and Senior Vice
President for Academic and Student Affairs and Provost.
3.2 Employment Services and Operations (ESO) administers the University's return-to-work
program in consultation with the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department
and must approve all return-to-work decisions made in accordance with this policy.
3.2.1 The Benefits staff have been designated as the University's return-to-work
3.2.2 ESO works with the employee supervisor in addressing employee’s needs.
3.2.3 The return-to-work program provides opportunities for employees who sustain a
compensable injury during the course and scope of employment to return to work
at full/modified duty. If the employee is not physically capable of returning to full
duty, the return-to-work program provides opportunities, when available, for the
employee to perform a temporary assignment in which the employee’s regular
position is modified to accommodate the employee’s physical capacities, or to a
temporary assignment with alternate duties. Assignment of any employee to a
temporary position or modified regular position in accordance with the return-towork program requires the approval of the employee’s supervisor, and the
Benefits and EHS departments.
3.2.4 If the employee is not satisfied with ESO’s decision, then the employee may
appeal to the Vice President for Employment Services and Operations (VPESO). All appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the University of Houston
System Office of General Counsel may be consulted as needed. After a thorough
review of all facts, the VPESO will make a final ruling on the return-to-work
decision rendered by the Benefits team.
3.3 The return-to-work program shall not be construed as recognition by the University that
any employee who participates in the return to-work program has a disability as defined
by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008. If the employee sustains an injury or illness
that results in a disability under the ADAAA, it is the employee's responsibility to inform
his or her supervisor and ESO when a disability exists and that a reasonable
accommodation is necessary to perform the essential functions of the job.
3.3.1 The University complies with the ADA of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act
of 2008, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with
disabilities. Nothing in this PS shall be used as the basis for illegal discrimination
against any individual or group.
3.3.2 In addition, the University complies with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. For additional information, please refer to PS 02.A.11, Family and Medical Leave Policy.
3.4 No employee of the University will discharge or in any other manner discriminate against
another employee of this institution because the employee:
(a) files a workers' compensation claim in good faith
(b) hires an attorney to represent the employee in a workers' compensation claim
(c) institutes or causes to be instituted in good faith a proceeding under the Texas Workers' Compensation Act
(d) testifies or is about to testify in a proceeding under the Texas Workers' Compensation
3.5 The University will consider an employee’s or supervisor’s request for return to work in
a temporary assignment or light duty on a case-by-case basis. If there is no temporary
assignment or light duty available, the employee will remain on a leave of absence until
he/she returns to full duty.
4.1 If an employee is unable to return to regular duties, the employee or the University may
request a temporary assignment. Performance of a temporary job assignment is intended
to return an injured employee to work at less than his or her full duties when a
compensable injury or serious medical condition resulting from a work-related injury or illness prevents the employee from working full duty. Modified duty and any other
temporary assignments may be available for six months only. Once the employee’s health
care provider certifies that the employee can return to work and can perform the essential
functions of the job, the supervisor must adhere to the employee’s medical/work
restrictions. The University will consider an employee’s or supervisor’s request for return
to work in a temporary assignment on a case-by-case basis. An employee in a temporary
assignment is responsible for providing an updated work status report after each date of
treatment from his/her health care provider during the period of the assignment to the
4.2 If modified duty or temporary assignment is approved by the Benefits Department, the
assignment will be documented in a “bona fide offer of employment” letter to the
employee. The bona fide offer of employment letter shall include the following
4.2.1 A statement that the University is aware of and will abide by any physical
limitations under which the treating health care provider has authorized the
employee to return to work and will provide training if necessary;
4.2.2 Description of the maximum physical job requirements;
4.2.3 The wage rate of the job;
4.2.4 The assignment location;
4.2.5 The expected assignment duration;
4.2.6 The consequences of not accepting the assignment, in terms of duration and any
income benefits payable under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and any
other relevant leave provisions;
4.2.7 The contact person if the employee has questions regarding the assignment, job
modifications, or other relevant leave provisions, and;
4.2.8 No guarantee that a position will be available should the employee fail to accept
4.3 The employee may accept or reject the bona fide offer of employment. The employee
shall be informed that rejection of the bona fide offer of employment will result in
workers’ compensation temporary income benefits, if applicable, be discontinued by the
State Office of Risk Management (SORM). If the employee accepts the bona fide offer
of employment, then the employee shall perform the duties of the position for the term
of assignment or until the employee is able to return to full duty, whichever is sooner. If
the employee rejects the bona fide offer of employment, then the employee remains off
work until the end of any approved leave period or until the employee is certified by the
health care provider to return to full duty, whichever occurs sooner. If the employee
rejects the bona fide offer of employment and the approved leave period has expired and
the employee is unable to return to his or her regular position, then the employee’s
continued employment with the University shall be considered based upon business
necessity and all applicable laws.
4.4 In the case of a temporary assignment, if the employee is unable to return to full duty by
the end of the assignment period and the approved leave period has expired then the employee’s continued employment with the University shall be considered based upon
the business necessity and all applicable laws.
Responsible Party (Reviewer): Vice President for Employment Services and Operations
Review: Every three years on or before November 1
Signed original on file in Employment Services and Operations
Issue #1: 08/04/99
Issue #2: 11/05/10
SAM 01.C.10, Return-to-Work Program On-the-Job Injuries
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993
PS 02.A.11, Family and Medical Leave Policy
Texas Workers' Compensation Act