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Adverse Weather (SPA)

Policy Statement

The University must ensure the delivery of services to citizens and businesses even during times of adverse weather conditions. Considering the varied geographic locations and diversity of University operations, it is the intent of this policy to establish a uniform policy regarding how operations will be affected during times of adverse weather conditions and to establish guidelines for accounting for time and for releasing non-mandatory employees from work when:

  • Adverse weather conditions prohibit or adversely impact the ability of non-mandatory employees to report to work or to remain at work, or
  • Adverse weather conditions necessitate the suspension of non-mandatory operations.


This policy applies to all SPA probationary and career status employees.

Policy Details

Designation of Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Operations

Schools/Divisions shall predetermine which operations will be designated as mandatory and remain open during adverse weather conditions. The mandatory designation shall be communicated to severe weather essential employees in writing along with the expectation for reporting to work during adverse weather conditions and the consequences for not meeting that expectation.

Employees in non-mandatory operations shall also be notified of their designation as well as their options for reporting to work and accounting for lost time from work during adverse weather conditions. Non-mandatory employees are expected to make a good faith effort to report to work or remain at work during adverse weather conditions. Non-mandatory employees should use their best judgment to remain as safe as possible considering the severe weather warnings issued at their worksite and the geographic areas within their commute to and from their worksite.

Determination of Suspension of Non-Mandatory Operations

Generally, the University is open unless a specific decision has been made by the Chancellor to suspend non-mandatory operations because of adverse weather conditions. The decision to suspend non-mandatory operations is based on consideration of adverse weather warnings and the safety and health of the public/clients served. The decision to suspend non-mandatory operations may also take into consideration staffing issues that might arise when a significant number of non-mandatory staff is unavailable for work due to adverse weather conditions. As a result, the decision to suspend non-mandatory operations should only apply to operations in the geographic area directly impacted by the adverse weather conditions.

The University designates three condition levels regarding adverse weather:

  • Condition 1: University is fully operational, offices are open; classes are held, all employees are expected to come to work.
  • Condition 2: University has suspended non-mandatory operations; classes are canceled;
    offices are open and non-mandatory employees are expected to report to work if possible; mandatory (severe weather essential) employees are required to report to work.
  • Condition 3: University has closed due to emergency conditions; classes are canceled; non-mandatory employees must not report to work; mandatory (severe weather essential) employees are required to report to work. (See Emergency Closing Policy for details.)

Landlords do not make the decision to suspend operations. Schools/Divisions that rent office space from non-State entities should communicate to employees that the University, and not the landlord, will make the decision whether non-mandatory or mandatory operations are suspended. Schools/Divisions that rent office space from non-State entities should have leases reviewed by University legal counsel to ensure that the lease (or other legally binding documents) makes it clear that a landlord cannot “close” a leased facility due to adverse weather, if the University has not made the decision to suspend operations due to adverse weather.

Communicating Adverse Weather Conditions and the Suspension of Non-Mandatory Operations

In the event of severe weather, employees have several resources available for learning the current status of the University:

  • ADVERSE WEATHER AND EMERGENCY PHONE LINE: Call 919-843-1234 for a recorded message on the adverse weather status for the University.
  • ALERT CAROLINA SYSTEM: Employees and students will receive notifications regarding adverse weather operations via email and text message.
  • WEBSITE:Adverse weather condition levels can be found on:
  • RADIO: Regarding University operations and Chapel Hill buses, tune into Radio Station WNJW, 1610 am, the Travelers Information System. WUNC (91.5 FM) will also broadcast regular announcements regarding any weather-related closings.
  • TELEVISION:Most local television stations will report weather-related closings during severe weather events.

Should the University close due to adverse weather, an announcement will be made by the Chancellor or designee. If conditions develop during the work day that require the University to close, the campus will be informed through regular administrative channels.

Declaration of a State of Emergency

Under certain adverse weather conditions, the Governor may issue a declaration of a “State of Emergency.” The declaration of a “State of Emergency” by the Governor does not impact the Chancellor’s authority and responsibility for making decisions related to University operations during adverse weather conditions. During a “State of Emergency,” non-mandatory employees are strongly encouraged to stay off the road unless it is an emergency travel situation and will be expected to follow the provisions of the adverse weather policy for accounting for lost time from work. With the approval of the supervisor, non-mandatory employees may be allowed to work from home or from an alternate work site if their job duties can be accommodated by a temporary reassignment of duty station.

Failure of Mandatory (Severe Weather Essential) Employees to Report

A severe weather essential employee’s failure to report to work or remain at work may result in disciplinary action and/or requiring the hours missed to be charged to leave with or without pay, as appropriate, as determined by management.

During adverse weather conditions, the Governor or the State Highway Patrol may ask motorists to stay off the road unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. When this travel notice is issued, a severe weather essential employee is still expected to report to work.

Exception: When weather conditions cause a severe weather essential employee to arrive late, the School/Division management may determine that the conditions justified the late arrival. Severe weather essential employees are expected to notify their supervisors or designees of their inability to report to work at the designated time due to weather conditions so essential work operations are covered in their absence. In such cases, the lost time may be made up in lieu of using paid leave or leave without pay and no disciplinary action will be taken.


Accounting for Time

If severe weather conditions are anticipated, supervisors may allow employees to take work home with them should they not be able to come to their work site the following day(s) due to adverse weather conditions.

When an employee does not to report to work, reports to work late, or leaves work early during adverse weather conditions, or when it has been determined that non-mandatory operations will be suspended due to adverse weather conditions (Condition 2), time lost from work shall be charged to available paid time off (“PTO”, i.e., compensatory time off, holiday equal time off, on-call time off, travel time off, adverse weather equal time off, or paid leave award).

If an employee does not have accrued PTO, or have sufficient PTO to cover the entire absence, then the supervisor may approve the employee to make up the time within the same work week. Otherwise, the employee must use available vacation leave or bonus leave.

If an employee does not have sufficient vacation or bonus leave, then the supervisor can choose to advance vacation leave to the employee (not to exceed the vacation leave amount to be accrued for the remainder of the calendar year) or the employee can take leave without pay.

Employees who are on prearranged vacation leave or sick leave must charge leave to the appropriate account.

Adverse weather options only apply during the period of time designated by the National Weather Service as adverse weather conditions as defined by this policy. The adverse weather policy does not cover child or elder care issues resulting from school/day care center closing decisions that may occur in advance or after adverse weather warnings are issued and expire.

For procedures for recording time during Condition 3, see the Emergency Closing Policy.


adverse weather conditions: When the National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings for weather conditions that may adversely impact an employee’s commute to and from work or may adversely impact the University’s ability to continue to provide non-mandatory operations to clients, customers, patients, students or the general public.

mandatory (severe weather essential) employees: Employees who are required to work during adverse weather conditions because their positions have been designated by School/Division as essential to University operations.

mandatory operations: Services that have been determined essential by the School/Division and shall be continued during adverse weather conditions. These services typically fall into the areas of law enforcement/public safety, direct patient/student care, facility maintenance, food service, but could also include support and administrative operations and other jobs/services that are considered essential.

non-mandatory employees: Employees who may be approved for a leave of absence during adverse weather conditions because their positions have been designated as non-essential to University operations.

Reason for Policy

The adverse weather policy ensures fair and consistent application of University leave policies and appropriate use of University resources.


The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources periodically requests reports on adverse weather operations for the University. Compliance with this policy ensures accurate reporting to the State.

Roles & Responsibilities

department management: determines which department activities are mandatory operations; determines which employees are mandatory (severe weather essential) to work during adverse weather conditions; notify employees if they are mandatory (severe weather essential) or not and what leave options are available/required during adverse weather conditions; communicate plans for suspension of non-mandatory operations.

HR Representative or TIM Administrator: records and tracks appropriate application of leave for adverse weather conditions.

Chancellor (or designee): determines if University will operate on suspension of non-mandatory operations due to adverse weather conditions.

Related Regulations, Statutes, and Related Policies


Subject Contact Telephone Email
Adverse Weather Policy Employee & Management Relations Manager (919) 843-3444 emr@unc.edu
Recording Leave in TIM Tim Administrator or TIM website

Document History

  • Effective Date: January 1, 2015
  • Last Revised Date: January 8, 2015