This is an archived article.

November 10, 2010

It’s a La Nina year — time to prepare for possible suspended operations at the UW

This is the time of year when Human Resources reminds employees about the University’s policies for suspended operations and inclement weather. And since this is a La Nina year — with more than average snowfalls expected — it’s definitely worth some thought.

HR has posted the information on suspended operations and provided planning tools on its website to help managers:

  • Understand University policy;
  • Evaluate unit functions and determine whether positions should be designated as essential;
  • Plan for events that could cause the University to suspend operations;
  • Communicate expectations to employees;
  • Understand leave use and compensation.

All this information can be found on the Human Resources Suspended Operations web pages.

Approximately 5,000 staff positions are currently designated “essential positions” and are required to continue working during periods of suspended operations. UW Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Hall Health Center, Facilities Services, the University Police Department, and the residence halls all provide services that are considered essential, and they do their best to mitigate any disruptions in service. Many other departments have positions designated as essential on a position-by-position basis.

Managers in departments providing “essential services” should be sure to inform employees of their responsibilities in the event that operations are suspended. It is equally important to notify employees in positions that do not provide an essential service that they are not to report to work during suspended operations.

Decisions to suspend operations on the Seattle, Bothell or Tacoma campuses are made independently based on the prevailing conditions in their respective locations. If operations are suspended mid-day (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the designated contact in each department (usually a dean or vice president) is responsible for disseminating the information.

Employees can find out whether the University is operating as usual by calling the toll-free emergency information line at 1-866-897-4636, or visiting the UW Homepage. Employees can also sign up for UW Alert to receive official information via e-mail or text message on events that may disrupt the normal operation of the UW.

When the weather is causing problems but the University has not suspended operations, the inclement weather policy applies. In those cases, an individual employee may request time off for weather-related difficulties, including commuting problems. Employees with questions about the inclement weather and suspended operations policies should contact the Human Resources Operations Office that serves their department.

Information on the HR Web sites includes a checklist of things departments can do to prepare and answers to commonly-asked questions.