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Suspended Operations


University Policy

The President or the President’s designee(s) may declare a temporary suspension of any or all University operations due to an emergency situation that adversely affects University operations, public health, or the well-being and safety of students, faculty, and staff (Executive Order 27).

Events which might require suspending operations include, but are not limited to: severe weather or natural disaster, spread of a communicable disease, fire or related hazard, an immediate threat to the safety of the campus community, damage to or failure of UW infrastructure, equipment or mechanical systems.

Essential Services and Employee Notification

Employees that a unit identifies as performing an essential service are required to report to work during any period of declared suspended operation. Employees in positions that are not designated as essential do not report to work when operations are suspended. These employees are covered by the pay and leave policies that apply during periods of suspended operations.

University officers (or their designees), including but not limited to the chancellors, vice presidents, vice provosts, vice chancellors, deans, and medical center chief executive officers are expected to annually:

  1. Identify those functions and/or positions in their unit(s) that perform essential services.
  2. Inform all of the employees in their units in writing of their status and responsibilities in the event the University suspends operations.
  3. Periodically remind employees of their status and responsibilities.

University Experience

The University has rarely had to suspend operations. Severe weather (generally snow) has been the principal reason for suspended operations. Localized operational suspensions have been caused by fire and utility outages.

The Pacific Northwest's periodic severe weather and geologic activity, and the possibility of communicable disease spread, make future disruptions likely.

Telework Alternative

If the University suspends operations, it may be possible for some employees to accomplish their work via telework (telecommuting). Telework may be a feasible option both for employees in essential positions and for regular employees who would not normally work during a suspension of operations. Employees may telework during suspended operations so long as they have the advance written approval of their supervisor or manager. For more information about telework, see the telework web pages for managers and the telework web pages for employees.


Prepare Your Department

The need for the University or a unit to suspend operations can arrive suddenly, with little or no advance warning. Units must therefore incorporate a response plan for suspended operations as part of their overall business continuity planning.

Visit the Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) User Guide to learn about what transactions to make in the OWLS for suspended operations.

Review the Suspended Operations Preparation Checklist to help ensure that your unit has completed the necessary tasks to be ready in the event the UW suspends operations.


Contact your unit's Human Resources Consultant if you have questions about suspended operations or the leave and compensation practices that apply to staff during suspended operations and inclement weather.

Contact UW Emergency Management if you have questions about or need assistance with business continuity planning.

University of Washington Policies

Suspended Operations