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Inclement weather policy for UW–Madison employees

November 7, 2022

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Winter in Wisconsin means snowstorms, bitter cold temperatures and icy conditions. To get ready before the first storm hits, University of Wisconsin–Madison employees should review the campus inclement weather policy.

Key points include:

  • Only the chancellor has the authority to cancel classes, suspend services and close the campus to the public and employees. Individual colleges, schools and units will not close unless the whole campus is closed.
  • Employees should use discretion regarding whether to safely travel to work and request leave if needed. Employees are required to use available annual leave (i.e., vacation, personal holiday), leave without pay or, when appropriate, accrued compensatory time to cover the absence. Or employees should arrange to make up time to cover absences. Unit practices for employee absences should be followed. Supervisors are advised to be flexible, if operationally possible, in approving employee-requested leave in inclement weather.

UW–Madison Inclement Weather Policy for Employees

The chancellor is responsible for determining if classes will be canceled or postponed or some university services suspended due to inclement weather. The chancellor’s decisions will be based on the safety and welfare of students, faculty and staff.

Colleges, schools and other campus units will not close on their own. For locations outside of Madison, deans and directors must receive authorization from the Office of the Chancellor before directing employees not to report to work or sending employees home. Some university services and functions (e.g., University Housing, UW–Madison Police Department, power plant operations) must continue to operate regardless of weather conditions. University Communications staff will work with the chancellor to provide weather-related announcements to the campus (via, email and @UWMadison on Twitter) and local news media.

Employees normally expected to report to work should continue doing so unless directed otherwise. Each employee is advised to use discretion and caution regarding their health and safety. An employee who reasonably determines that it is not safe to travel will not be subject to discipline for being absent. Supervisors are expected to honor reasonable requests of employees to arrive late or to leave early because of inclement weather. Employees are expected to notify their supervisors if they cannot report to work or will report late.

Employees who are directed not to report, are unable to report or are sent home have the following options:

University Staff non-exempt (hourly and subject to overtime requirements): Must use available annual leave (vacation, personal holiday), accrued compensatory time or leave without pay to cover each hour absent. Non-exempt (hourly) employees must account for each hour of employment. If an employee’s supervisor determines that the work unit can benefit from services provided by the employee at other than regularly scheduled times, the employee will be allowed to make up as much of the time as is necessary during the remainder of the work week. With supervisor approval, an employee may also work from home or an alternate location during the inclement weather.

Academic Staff and University Staff exempt (salaried and not subject to overtime requirements): Must use available annual leave (vacation, personal holiday), leave without pay or, when appropriate, compensatory time to cover the absence. An employee and the employee’s supervisor may agree that the employee account for the absence in another manner consistent with the exempt nature of the employee’s position.

Remote Work During Inclement Weather

Employees with an approved remote work agreement can continue working remotely during an inclement weather event provided they are able to do so (i.e., no loss of power or internet).

For employees who typically work on site but are non-essential during an inclement weather-related event or closure, they may work remotely provided they have supervisor approval and are able to do so based on the duties and responsibilities of their job. Once the inclement weather-related event has ended, these employees are expected to return to their regular on-site work.

Those employees who are non-essential during an inclement weather-related event and cannot perform the duties and responsibilities of their jobs from home doing remote work should follow the policy listed above. This includes use of leave and/or make up schedule time within the same work week.

For purposes of inclement weather policy, each college/school/division has the discretion to determine which employees are considered essential.

The campus-wide policy is available here.