The Weather Outside is Frightful: Inclement Weather Closing Policies

Winter is here, bringing with it marshmallows and cocoa, scarves and mittens – and the administrative headache of inclement weather closings. Library Worklife surveyed academic libraries across the nation, asking them how they handle weather-related absences.

LW asked libraries the following questions:

  1. If you close early due to bad weather, do you still pay employees (exempt and nonexempt) for the full day?
  2. What if employees come in late or leave early — do they receive their full pay?
  3. Do you make employees take vacation or other paid time off?
  4. If the office remains open, but employees can’t make it in, do you dock their pay?
  5. What if they’ve exhausted their leave?

Below are responses from several libraries.

“In a Wind Chill Emergency, all employees are expected to be at work and those who decide not to do so must request paid or unpaid leave. In this situation, the Libraries will require employees to first use the following paid leave, if available: vacation, personal holiday (if non-exempt) or personal business day (if exempt). If that leave has been exhausted, we will grant unpaid personal leave. In a Snow or Ice Emergency (which means that most employees are not to be at work), the Libraries will wait for direction from Human Resource Services regarding pay practices.”

“If there is an official closing most of our libraries are closed and library staff and faculty are paid. The main library will almost always remain open with reduced staffing and certain key employees are required to work. They get a paid day off on another day. If an employee is required to work during emergency closings and they don’t come in, they are subject to corrective action. We handle those on a case by case basis. If it is not an official emergency closing, employees who do not come to work or who arrive late or leave early are required to take vacation (or the supervisor may let them make up the time within the same pay period) time and would not be paid if they had no earned vacation time.”

“If the University officially closes because of inclement weather, employees are actually prohibited from coming to campus (unless they are emergency personnel) and they have the option of using vacation leave to cover the time, taking the time as unpaid leave, or using Adverse Weather Leave (which pays them at the time, but needs to be made up within one year or the employee’s pay will be docked). And of course, the administrative responsibilities lie with the employing department to track, notify, code, dock, etc. If the University remains open, but employees can’t make it in, they again have the choice of coding vacation time, taking the time as unpaid leave, or coding Adverse Weather (which needs to be made up). You can imagine that most folks code Adverse Weather, then, over the course of the year, have a hard time making it up and end up moving vacation leave or taking the time as unpaid, so there’s a lot of admin time that goes into this. And if there are multiple weather events (as we’ve had over the last several winters) each event starts a new 365-day clock, so we’re running multiple timelines of when things expire and need to be made up.”

“If the University officially closes because of inclement weather, then all employees are paid for the full day, whatever their schedule may be. Employees are not required to take vacation or other paid time off. If the University remains open, but employees can’t make it in, they would be docked if their leave was exhausted.”

“Whether folks get paid for a full or partial day is dictated by the University. Typically, though, employees will be paid for the full day if we close early or close within 1-2 hours of opening. Employees who do not show at all prior to early closing have to take annual/vacation leave for the time missed prior to the announcement to close. As for those who come in early or work a late shift (generally circ staff and facilities crew), it is ‘luck of the draw.’ The early morning person will end up working several more hours than those who work afternoon and evening.”

“If someone can’t make it in, which does happen on occasion, and they have no leave, we ask that they make up the time. If this is a full day, it could take a couple weeks to cover those 8 or 10 hours.”

“Those who have previously requested leave use their sick, annual or personal leave as requested. Also, if an employee decides not to come in due to inclement weather or the forecast when the university is open, the employee is required to take annual or personal leave. If the university, and hence library, closes later in the day, the employee cannot change to administrative leave for the time the university is closed.”

“If the university closes early due to inclement weather, all employees (exempt and non-exempt) are paid for the full day. Employees are given administrative leave for the amount of time they use. Essential personnel (facilities staff) are required to report to work. If employees come in late or leave early, they must take use their own annual leave. If classes have been canceled and offices are open, employees are expected to report to work. If an employee does not come to work, s/he must use annual leave. If the office is open, but employees are not able to make it to the office, they are charged with annual leave. If they have exhausted their leave, they can be put on leave without pay, but may make up the time with supervisory approval.”

“We have two scenarios: 1) classes are cancelled and offices are open; 2) classes are cancelled and offices are closed (either partial day or full day). If the university offices are closed, staff are paid. If classes are cancelled but offices are open, staff are expected to come to work. If staff decide not to come to work because of conditions, staff take leave. If they have exhausted their leave they take leave without pay.”

“Typically the Library closes when the University does.”