Benefits with Regard to Inclement Weather Closure Policy

Q

I am disappointed that UCAR is offering to pay me for closure hours rather than having me draw on my quite generous pool of PTO hours while at the same time denying pay to scheduled casual staff who do not get benefits. Is there a good reason (for example, federal law) why this is done?

Inclement Weather Closures (from UCAR Policies and Procedures Section 5-4):

"Exempt and nonexempt employees absent because of official closures are paid for their regular working hours during the period of closure. Casual employees are paid only for actual hours worked and are not paid for hours not worked even though they may have been scheduled during a closure. Employees not working due to inclement weather at times when an official closure has not been declared, or stopping work before the time of official closure, must count their absences as vacation/PTO or leave without pay. Essential nonexempt employees who continue to work during a closure receive overtime pay for all hours worked after a closure is declared. Employees on vacation or using sick leave when an inclement weather closure is declared are unaffected and must count closure hours as vacation/PTO. Staff working from home should not claim closure and should report worked hours as normal."

Answered on May 29, 2009

A

The inclement weather policy has been in place for a number of years. At one time, closure hours were not charged to the benefit pool. Following a review by NSF, UCAR was directed to charge these non-worked hours to the pool. Non-worked hours that may be charged to the benefit pool include the following: holiday, PTO, sick leave reserve, salary continuation, military, leave without pay, jury/voting, family sick leave, family death leave, education time, closure, exception, and workers' compensation. Some of these have budgeted hours associated with them (for example, PTO, holiday) and others are charged to the benefit pool on an as-used basis (for example, closure, family death leave).

There are two benefit rates for UCAR employees: reduced benefit rate and full benefit rate. The reduced benefit rate is calculated using the worked salaries of employees who receive less benefits than other staff, such as full-time staff. These employees (including casual employees) are not paid for time not worked. Casual employees receive legally required benefits like social security, but not most optional benefits such as pay for time not worked. Because of the reduced benefits, the benefit rate for casual employees is less than the full benefit rate. Under our current structure we cannot provide casual employees with benefits that are not included in the reduced benefit rate calculation.

We will be reviewing the inclement weather policy in the next few months and will provide an update through the Delphi coordinator as soon as that review is complete. Thanks for bringing up this timely issue.

Melissa Miller
Director, Budget and Finance