ISU administrators have authorized reduced services and limited operations over winter break, a cost-saving effort that has been popular since first implemented in 2009. Although not mandatory, the partial closure allows employees to extend their time off between designated holidays with paid or unpaid leave.
This year, there are four work days -- Dec. 27-30 -- that fall during an 11-day stretch of university holidays and weekends (Friday, Dec. 23-Monday, Jan. 2). In a joint memo to administrators this week, interim vice president for university human resources (UHR) Kristi Darr and senior vice president for university services Kate Gregory outlined procedures for units and employees planning to reduce operations during that time.
"We are encouraging units to begin planning for the winter break period now," Darr said. "We would like to see communication to staff and information placed on websites by the end of October."
Learn more about leave
Employees have paid and unpaid leave options during university academic breaks, but are not required to take leave. Merit employees are covered by the terms in the collective bargaining agreement with the state.
"Deans, vice presidents and leaders are encouraged to review their workloads and enable staff to take liberal leave," Gregory said.
Policies and procedures for the partial closure have been refined for clarity, thanks to a push by the Professional and Scientific Council. In January, the council requested that university administrators take a look at conflicting information in the vacation/leave policies and the flexible hours program.
Since then, UHR staff developed a document of frequently asked questions to provide help for employees and supervisors. Other resources include:
- Staffing guidance for university breaks
- Vacation leave policy
- Office hours policy
- Holidays policy
- Flex time policy
Put a plan in place
Administrators are encouraged to review their activities in advance and work out staffing plans with their employees. Essential services and programs may continue operating, but many will be reduced.
"A partial shutdown isn’t just about making personnel plans," Gregory said. "It’s also about making plans to provide essential services and reduce our facilities costs while maintaining our buildings."
Units that participate in the partial closure also should:
- Communicate staffing plans and operating hours on websites and voicemail inboxes
- Post emergency contact information on websites and voicemail inboxes
- Turn off equipment to conserve energy
- Turn down thermostats for unoccupied spaces
- Check periodically for malfunctions (plumbing, heating, cooling)
- Coordinate staff to monitor and respond to voicemail messages on main numbers