University Policy 41
Adverse Weather Leave

Formerly Executive Memorandum 90-96
Initially approved December 16, 1981
Revised:  October 1, 1985
                  January 15, 1990
                 July 2001
                October 2003
                March 1, 2013
                January 1, 2015

Policy Topic:  Personnel


Administering Office: Office of Human Resources and Payroll

 I. POLICY STATEMENT

The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources has established certain guidelines for accounting for time or releasing employees from work when adverse weather or other conditions of a serious nature prohibit some employees from reporting to work but do not necessitate the closing of state offices, facilities, or universities. (25 NCAC 01E.1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906)

It is the intent of this policy to establish guidelines regarding how operations will be affected during times of adverse weather conditions and for accounting for time and for releasing non-mandatory employees from work when:

  • adverse weather conditions prohibit or adversely impact the ability of non-mandatory employees to report to work or to remain at work, or
  • adverse weather conditions necessitate the suspension of non-mandatory operations.

II. DEFINITIONS

  1. Adverse Weather Conditions: When the National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings for weather conditions that may adversely impact an employee’s commute to and from work or may adversely impact the university’s  ability to continue to provide non-mandatory operations to clients, customers, patients, students or the general public.

  2. Mandatory Employees: Employees who are required to work during adverse weather conditions because their positions have been designated by their Chancellor or designee as essential to Western Carolina University operations.

  3. Mandatory Operations: Services that have been determined essential by the Chancellor or designee and therefore, shall be continued during adverse weather conditions. These services typically fall into the areas of law enforcement/public safety, direct patient/student care, facility maintenance, dining services, but could also include support and administrative operations and other jobs/services that are considered essential.

  4. Non-Mandatory employees: Employees who may be approved for a leave of absence during adverse weather conditions because their positions have been designated as non-essential to Western Carolina University operations.

III. DETAILS/PROCEDURES

Because Western Carolina University is a residential university with more than 3,000 students in residence halls, the university does not, as a matter of general practice, suspend non-mandatory operations or cancel classes in Cullowhee because of adverse weather conditions. Western Carolina University does conduct classes off the Cullowhee campus, in locations both in and out of the mountain region, and adverse weather conditions may affect those classes, particularly those which meet during evening hours. Commuting students, faculty and staff should exercise discretion and good judgment in deciding whether to attempt travel during hazardous conditions.

    1. The Chancellor will predetermine which operations will be designated as mandatory and remain open during adverse weather conditions. It is understood that certain areas must remain operational during adverse weather conditions. These include Campus Dining, Emergency Services, University Police, Health Services, Facilities Management, and Residential Living. The appropriate vice chancellor or designee will be responsible for notifying mandatory personnel who are required to be on duty during adverse weather conditions as well as the consequences for not meeting that expectation.
    2. Employees in non-mandatory operations shall also be notified of their designation as well as their options for reporting to work and accounting for lost time from work during adverse weather conditions. Non-mandatory employees are expected to make a good faith effort to report to work or remain at work during adverse weather conditions. Non-mandatory employees should use their best judgment to remain as safe as possible considering the severe weather warnings issued at their worksite and the geographic areas within their commute to and from their worksite. Non-mandatory employees who anticipate problems in their commute to and from work should be permitted to avail themselves of the adverse weather leave options.

    3. Western Carolina University units that rent office space from non-State entities should communicate to employees that the Chancellor, and not the landlord, will make the decision whether non-mandatory or mandatory operations are suspended.  Respective leases should be reviewed by Legal Counsel to ensure that the lease (or other legally binding documents) makes it clear that a landlord cannot "close" a leased facility due to adverse weather, if the Chancellor has not made the decision to suspend operations due to adverse weather.

    4. Under certain adverse weather conditions, the Governor may issue a declaration of a "State of Emergency." The declaration of a "State of Emergency" by the Governor does not impact the Chancellor's authority and responsibility for making decisions related to Western Carolina University operations during adverse weather conditions.  During a "State of Emergency," non-mandatory employees are strongly encouraged to stay off the road unless it is an emergency travel situation and will be expected to follow the provisions of the adverse weather policy for accounting for lost time from work.  With the approval of the supervisor, non-mandatory employees may be allowed to work from home or from an alternate work site if their job duties can be accommodated by a temporary reassignment of duty station.

    5. The following procedures will apply during a period of adverse weather conditions:

      • The Chancellor will determine the operations on the campus that will remain fully operational and if or when non-mandatory operations may be suspended.  The decision to suspend services will be applicable only to University operations in the geographic area directly impacted by the adverse weather conditions.
      • The Office of Communications and Public Relations in conjunction with Emergency Services is responsible for disseminating information concerning class changes and the status of the campus when adverse weather conditions are in effect.  Communication will be provided to all employees and the public through the University website, campus email, the Emergency Alert system, social media, and various media outlets. Additionally, the University will notify mandatory and non-mandatory employees to include the expectations for remaining at work, reporting to work or accounting for lost time from work.  Policies and procedures for the operation or cancellation of classes in the event of adverse weather are contained in Section 5.03.01 Instructional Responsibilities of the Faculty in the Faculty Handbook.  Questions should be directed to the Office of the Provost

    6. Failure of Mandatory Employees to Report: A mandatory employee's failure to report to work or remain at work may result   in disciplinary action and/or requiring the hours missed to be charged to leave with or without pay, as appropriate, as determined by the appropriate vice chancellor.
      • During adverse weather conditions, the Governor or the State Highway Patrol may ask motorists to stay of the road unless it is absolutely necessary to travel.  When this travel notice is issued, a mandatory employee is still expected to report to work. Exception: When weather conditions cause a mandatory employee to arrive late, the Chancellor or designee may determine that the conditions justified the late arrival.  A mandatory employee is expected to notify his/her supervisor or designee of his/her inability to report to work at the designated time due to weather conditions so essential work operations are covered in his/her absence.  In such cases, the lost time may be made up in lieu of using paid leave or leave without pay and no disciplinary action will be taken.

    7. Accounting for Time: When a non-mandatory employee does not report to work, reports to work late, or leaves work early during adverse weather conditions, or when it has been determined that non-mandatory operations will be suspended due to adverse weather conditions, time lost from work shall be charged to accrued compensatory time (i.e., holiday, overtime, gap hours, callback, on-call, travel, or emergency closing comp time).  If the employee does not have accrued compensatory time or have sufficient compensatory time to cover the entire period of absence, then the employee has the following options to account for time lost from work:
      • use vacation leave,
      • use bonus leave, or
      • request approval to take leave without pay (LWOP).
      • Where operational needs allow, and a supervisor approves, an employee may be allowed to make up the time lost to adverse weather in accordance with the provisions outlined below.  Make-up time is not an employee entitlement.  In all cases, make-up time must be supported by operational need, and not the individual employee's desire to make up time lost due to adverse weather rather than taking vacation or bonus leave or leave without pay.
      • Make-up time shall only be approved by the supervisor in lieu of vacation leave, bonus leave or LWOP.  Employees with sufficient accrued compensatory time to cover the adverse weather absence shall not be eligible to make up the adverse weather time.
      • Employees who are on prearranged vacation leave or sick leave will charge leave to the appropriate account with no provision for make-up time.

    8. Adverse weather options only apply during the period of time designated by the National Weather Service as adverse weather conditions as defined by the policy. The adverse weather policy does not cover child or elder care issues resulting from school/day care center closing decisions that may occur in advance or after adverse weather warnings are issued and expire.  For such situations, vacation leave is the appropriate category to account for such absences, or an employee with insufficient leave balance may request permission to take leave without pay.

    9. Make-Up Provisions: If adverse weather make-up time is approved, the supervisor shall be responsible for scheduling make-up time within the same pay period as the adverse weather event, if possible.  If make-up time cannot be scheduled within the same pay period, the make-up time shall be scheduled within 90 days of the adverse weather absence.  Make-up time may be scheduled in a workweek which results in overtime, if there is a bona-fide operational need to schedule overtime work.  The supervisor shall notify the employee when make-up time is approved and scheduled.  Upon notice of approval, the employee is expected to report to work and perform the make-up work as scheduled. The supervisor and the employee shall cooperate in making reasonable efforts to arrange schedules and identify operational needs for overtime work in order to enable an employee to be given the opportunity to make-up time not worked, rather than charging it to leave.
      • Employees who volunteer to make up time on a holiday will not receive Holiday Premium Pay or equal time off with pay. Supervisors must approve working on a holiday to make up adverse weather time.
      • Time lost to adverse weather must be made up within 90 days from the occurrence of the absence.  If it is not made up within 90 days, vacation or bonus leave shall be charged.  If there is not sufficient vacation or bonus leave to cover the absence, payment for the time originally paid as adverse weather leave shall be deducted from the employee's next paycheck.
      • If an employee has an outstanding adverse weather liability (balance of leave approved for make-up), all additional time worked after the adverse weather absence shall be credited toward resolving the adverse weather liability.  This includes compensatory time earned for holidays, overtime, gap hours, callback, on-call, travel or emergency closings.
      • If an employee requests an extended leave of absence with or without pay (including absences due to Family Medical Leave, Short-Term Disability and Worker's Compensation), the liability owed for time not worked during an adverse weather event shall be resolved through use of vacation or bonus leave.  If there is not sufficient vacation or bonus leave to cover the adverse weather liability, the amount paid for adverse weather leave shall be deducted from the employee's paycheck prior to the start of the extended leave of absence.  An "extended leave of absence" is an absence in excess of one half of the regularly scheduled workdays and holidays in the month or in the pay period, whichever is applicable.
      • If the employee transfers to another State University or agency before the time is made up, the time allowed for adverse weather leave shall be charged to vacation or bonus leave.  If there is not sufficient vacation or bonus leave to cover the adverse weather liability, the payment for time charged to adverse weather leave shall be deducted from the employee's paycheck by the releasing university or agency.
      • If an employee separates from the university before the time charged to adverse weather leave is made up, it must be charged to vacation or bonus leave or deducted from the final paycheck, if there is not sufficient leave to cover the adverse leave payment.

 

IV. POLICY REVIEW

This Policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary in the event that the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources revises related policies and/or procedures.

V. RELATED POLICIES AND RESOURCES

 

 

 

 

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