(1) Education and training are an integral component in improving the delivery of services to the public. Recognizing that the application of productivity-enhancing technology and practice demands continuous educational and training opportunities, a state employee may be authorized to receive a voucher or grant, for matriculation fees, to attend work-related courses at public community colleges, public career centers, or public universities. The department may implement the provisions of this section from funds appropriated to the department for this purpose. In the event insufficient funds are appropriated to the department, each state agency may supplement these funds to support the training and education needs of its employees from funds appropriated to the agency.
(2) The department, in conjunction with the agencies, shall request that public universities provide evening and weekend programs for state employees. When evening and weekend training and educational programs are not available, an employee may be authorized to take paid time off during his or her regular working hours for training and career development, as provided in s. 110.105(1), if such training benefits the employer as determined by that employee’s agency head.
(3) An employee who exhibits superior aptitude and performance may be authorized by that employee’s agency head to take a paid educational leave of absence for up to 1 academic year at a time, for specific approved work-related education and training. That employee must enter into a contract to return to state employment for a period of time equal to the length of the leave of absence or refund salary and benefits paid during his or her educational leave of absence.
(4) As a precondition to approving an employee’s training request, an agency or the judicial branch may require an employee to enter into an agreement that requires the employee to reimburse the agency or judicial branch for the registration fee or similar expense for any training or training series when the cost of the fee or similar expense exceeds $1,000 if the employee voluntarily terminates employment or is discharged for cause from the agency or judicial branch within a specified period of time not to exceed 4 years after the conclusion of the training. This subsection does not apply to any training program that an agency or the judicial branch requires an employee to attend. An agency or the judicial branch may pay the outstanding balance then due and owing on behalf of a state employee under this subsection in connection with recruitment and hiring of such state employee.
(5) The Department of Management Services, in consultation with the agencies and, to the extent applicable, with Florida’s public community colleges, public career centers, and public universities, shall adopt rules to administer this section.