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UNH Pilots Altered Curtailed Operations Policy

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The UNH flexible work arrangements task force announced its first project this week: piloting a revision to UNH’s curtailed operations policy that encourages managers and staff to develop flexible work arrangements in the event that UNH does not curtail operations, but getting to and from campus is a concern for some employees.

Below are questions and answers about this pilot. More information can be found at http://unh.edu/hr/fwa.htm, and we encourage your feedback at flex.work@unh.edu.

What is workplace flexibility?
Workplace flexibility allows employees to work with their supervisors to create work schedules that more effectively meet the work and life needs of both employers and employees. It includes flex-time, reduced time, flex-leaves, and teleworking.

Why is UNH piloting an altered curtailed operations policy to include flexible work arrangement options during inclement weather when UNH is open?
Piloting the use of flexible work arrangements when UNH does not curtail operations:

  • Supports the UNH strategic plan’s calls for a flexible allocation of time and space, a budget system aligned with strategic priorities and focused on achieving cost savings and efficiencies, and an expanded commitment to being an employer of choice and a model of sustainability.
  • Supports the goals of the USNH board of trustees to implement a more sustainable, flexible, and cost-effective structure of doing business. USNH’s flexible work alternatives policy provides for flexible work arrangements during inclement weather.
  • Provides flexibility for managers and staff, where appropriate and in conversation with each other, to continue to have departmental goals and deadlines met efficiently and effectively.
  • Saves money and resources. For example, the UNH energy task force estimates that a modest telecommuting program would save both the university and individual employees money while also preventing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, helping UNH achieve its Climate Action Plan (“WildCAP”) goals.

If this initial pilot works well, UNH may incorporate it formally into UNH’s curtailed operations policy. This pilot will give the UNH flexible arrangements task force the information and feedback from UNH managers and staff it needs to make informed recommendations.

Does the altered curtailed operations policy mean that UNH will no longer curtail operations?
No. This pilot does not replace the decision to curtail operations. The decision to curtail operations is made based on when the campus is, or is expected to be, unprepared for parking and pedestrian traffic; local road conditions and the ability to continue bus service; and/or utility and power outages that impact the working environment. The altered curtailed operations policy pilot allowing for flexible work arrangements does not factor into the decision to curtail operations.

Instead, this pilot provides another option beyond staff using vacation time or earned time when UNH does not curtail operations during inclement weather. Flexible work arrangements can benefit both managers and staff: when UNH does not curtail operations but travel is of a concern, work can still be accomplished. 

Does the altered curtailed operations policy mean that employees will be required to work even when UNH curtails operations?
No. A declaration of curtailed operations means that only personnel who perform priority support services are required to work. Because UNH is a residential campus, regardless of the weather conditions, we must continue to provide services to our student population and ensure that our physical plant is properly maintained.  If you are unsure whether your position is considered priority in a weather emergency, please check with your supervisor.  Please see the annual curtailed operations letter from Vice President for Finance and Administration Dick Cannon for more information.

When UNH curtails operations, staff who do not perform priority support services, even if they have flexible work arrangements with their managers, will not be forced to work.

What should managers and employees do to prepare for this Curtailed Operations Policy pilot?
We encourage all managers to proactively discuss with their staff if flexible work arrangements (from telecommuting to using compensatory time) might be appropriate for a particular position and/or staff during inclement weather when UNH does not curtail operations.  The flexible work arrangements task force has online resources to assist managers and staff with this discussion, including department’s expectations of staff, IT requirements, daily communication needs, appropriate home environment, and more at http://unh.edu/hr/fwa.htm

Are flexible work arrangements appropriate for all positions or employees?
No. The needs of the university and each department should dictate whether or not a flexible work arrangement is appropriate for a particular position or staff. Positions that require in-person service, for example, are not a good fit for some forms of flexible work arrangements, like telecommuting.  Other flexible work arrangements, such as using compensatory time, might be more appropriate. Ongoing discussion and feedback between managers and staff are key to determining if flexible work arrangements fit and, if so, which type of flexible work arrangement could be used.

What are the goals of the UNH flexible work arrangements task force?
The flexible work arrangements (FWA) task force is a cross-campus committee tasked with developing polices and guidelines to support flexible work arrangements at UNH, including flex time, part time, job sharing, compressed work week, telework and remote work. The task force began meeting last summer, and ongoing work includes conducting a needs assessment/survey, examining current policies and practices, and identifying needs for policy development, guidelines, and communication/training.  Plans are to have a full set of recommendations and an implementation plan in 2012. More information, including the list of task force members, can be found at http://unh.edu/hr/fwa.htm.