Know the rules on adverse weather

Jan 12, 2018

The first big snowstorm of 2018 hit in the first week of January, and more will likely hit before the winter ends. With that in mind, it’s important that all state employees know the rules regarding missed work because of weather.

The Office of State Human Resources updated the policy in early 2015 and created a new and separate Emergency Closing Policy. The Adverse Weather Policy applies only to commute conditions, while the Emergency Closing Policy applies to dangerous workplace conditions.

The Adverse Weather Policy states that if employees leave work or are unable to report to work due to adverse weather, the time missed will be charged to accrued compensatory time, or if none exists, employees may be approved to make up the time using overtime within 90 days.

Under the separate Emergency Closing Policy, if the worksite is closed because it dangerous for the public and employees to even be there, no work time will be required to be made up.

The policy also explains that all mandatory employees are required to report to work under adverse weather conditions, even if the governor or State Highway Patrol have asked motorists to stay off the roads. If such conditions cause an employee to be late reporting to work, the time may be made up with a supervisor’s approval without using leave time.

Read the state's policy here

Read the UNC System's policy here

Making up the hours

In some instances, particularly under a State of Emergency declaration by the governor, non-mandatory personnel may seek approval from their supervisor to work from home or an alternate work site. If non-mandatory employees take leave, those lost hours will first be charged to any existing comp time (holiday, overtime, gap hours, callback, on-call, travel or emergency closing). If an employee’s comp time does not cover the entire period of absence, the employee can either use vacation leave, bonus leave, request leave without pay, or make up the lost time through overtime “where operational needs allow and a supervisor approves” within 90 days.

Legitimate purposes for overtime include making up the missed work, special projects or trainings that are difficult to fit into regular work day, and work on any existing backlogs. When making up time with overtime, each hour of overtime is worth 1.5 hours of regular time. So, for example, only two hours of overtime will be required to make up three hours of regular time.

Emergency Closing Policy

According to the new policy emergency conditions are those considered by agency heads and emergency officials to be “hazardous to life or safety of both the general public as well as employees at a specific location or worksite.”

Examples of emergency evacuations include “catastrophic life threatening natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and floods” or possibly “fire, bomb threats, prolonged disruption of power and/or water, contamination by hazardous agents, terrorist acts.” Snow and ice only constitute emergency conditions if they threaten the structural safety of the worksite.

What it means for you

With these changes the state has tightened its rules for what constitutes an emergency closing. This means that in cases of snow and ice or other adverse weather conditions, more employees will likely be forced to use leave time or to make the time up. However, the fact that employees now have 90 days to make up the lost hours through overtime is a new benefit that many should be able to use to protect their leave – and something advocated for by SEANC.

SEANC will continue to work with OSHR to ensure that state employees are treated fairly and that their safety is considered during adverse weather and emergency closing conditions.

(originally posted in 2015)