Policy outlines operating conditions, procedures for adverse weather

From WCU’s Office of Human Resources and Payroll

The threat of snow, ice or other winter weather affecting class and work schedules in the coming weeks is a real possibility. As a reminder, students, faculty and staff need to be aware of the university’s Adverse Weather and Emergency Event Policy (policy #41) as it relates to campus operating conditions and how decisions will be made and communicated in the event of inclement weather.

First and foremost, safety is always the No. 1 consideration, and in that context, the university is committed to communicating any change in status as far in advance as possible. When making weather-related decisions, university officials rely on information from campus grounds, public safety and transportation staffs, law enforcement agencies, the National Weather Service and other sources.

In the event that inclement weather occurs, the Adverse Weather Policy outlines three condition levels that can be declared by the chancellor or the chancellor’s designee.

Condition 1: Reduced operations, the university is open.

  • Classes may (or may not) operate on a regular schedule.
  • Non-mandatory employees use their own discretion in deciding whether or not to work, with timely notice to their supervisor. Those employees must account for any leave taken, unless an exception is made through the governor’s executive order.
  • Mandatory employees must report to or remain at work unless otherwise notified.

Condition 2: Suspension of all but mandatory operations.

  • Classes are canceled.
  • All non-mandatory operations are suspended.
  • Non-mandatory employees must not report to work or must leave the workplace. Employees must account for any leave taken, unless an exception is made through executive order.
  • Mandatory employees must report to or remain at work unless otherwise notified.

Condition 3: University closure. The university is closed due to the most severe situations.

  • Classes are canceled.
  • All but the most critical mandatory operations have been shut down.
  • Non-mandatory employees must not work and must leave campus. These employees are not required to use personal leave when absent from work.
  • All or a limited number of mandatory employees may be directed to remain at or report to work.
  • No employees will be required to charge leave or make up work time missed.
  • Current University of North Carolina system policy will only allow for the designation of Condition 3 on a retroactive basis. As a rule, the university will only declare a Condition 1 or 2 at the time of an adverse weather event.

As always, deciding when and whether it is safe to travel to work, or if deteriorating weather conditions necessitate an early departure, ultimately lies with each faculty and staff member. Employees are asked to communicate with their supervisor as soon as possible when they are concerned about traveling to and from campus. Classroom instructors who cannot travel to class meetings because of inclement weather are asked to communicate with their department heads to discuss plans, and if the face-to-face class meetings must be canceled, to communicate the news with their students as soon as possible. In those situations, the instructor should coordinate an alternative and meaningful assignment for students.

In regards to time missed due to adverse weather, the university may, but is not required to, offer employees designated as non-mandatory the option of “make-up” time. Employees can charge time lost to leave with or without pay, or work with their supervisors to potentially make up for time lost due to adverse weather. If “make-up” time is offered, it must be made up within 90 calendar days.

Supervisors should be aware of their responsibility for communicating to employees whether they are designated “mandatory” or “non-mandatory.” Mandatory employees are required to work during adverse weather conditions, enabling the university to continue providing critical and essential services to students during inclement weather.

When inclement weather causes changes in the class schedule, announcements will be issued by 6 a.m. for day classes and by 4 p.m. for evening classes for both the Cullowhee campus and WCU’s Programs at Biltmore Park. The announcements will be posted on the university’s website and social media channels.

Staff members from WCU’s Office of Human Resources and Payroll are holding information sessions regarding the Adverse Weather and Emergency Event Policy. The sessions include a general overview of the policy and a time for questions. Upcoming sessions are set for 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11.

The full policy can be viewed at this web page.

Questions about the policy can be directed to Anne Banks in the Office of Human Resources and Payroll at 828-227-2794 or ambanks@wcu.edu.