Leaders share staffing guidelines for winter break weeks

University employees are encouraged to use accrued vacation time during next month's winter break, Dec. 20-Jan. 14, both for their own well-being and to reduce campus energy use. By chance, winter break this year coincides exactly with Iowa State's second winter session. While the four-week term will be 100% virtual, the first priority is to support winter term students and a successful second pilot.

In an Oct. 27 memo, senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain and vice president for university human resources Kristi Darr provided work guidelines for the four-week period. They support time off for employees, including closed offices during a portion of winter break, as long as essential operations (public safety, utilities) continue, research projects aren't impacted and customers -- including students -- receive the assistance they seek.

More information about university breaks

Staffing Guidance
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"We're encouraging supervisors and their employees to develop staffing plans that promote a healthy work-life balance," Darr said. "The semester break is a wonderful time to use accrued vacation to rest, catch up with family or visit friends."

Cain said the key will be to communicate any changes to the normal schedule in multiple places: on phone messages, office doors, websites, social media sites, etc.

Following are highlights from their campus message:

Break office hours

Offices may implement break hours, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., from Monday, Dec. 20, through Friday, Jan. 14. Employees should be "fully engaged" and performing regular duties and responsibilities over the break period, especially services for students and customers.

Partial closing option

If their workload allows, offices have the option of closing the week of Dec. 27, which includes two university holidays: Dec. 27 and 31. Employees with sufficient accrued vacation time who use three vacation days, Dec. 28-30, in effect achieve 10 days away from the office (Dec. 24-Jan. 2). Employees may choose to take unpaid time off, but it isn't required.

"Winter session operates that week and we'll be educating students, so offices that serve students still need to have a plan for how that will happen," Cain said.

Units should get approval from their division leader or a delegate for a weeklong closure, and employees should request the time off through the usual Workday channel. If necessary, supervisors are responsible for finding duties for employees who want to work.

More guidelines

Take vacation. To support and encourage work-life balance, Cain and Darr asked supervisors to work with their staff to accommodate vacation requests during winter break.

Access to buildings. All units should work with their building supervisor (available on this building information menu) to coordinate access to their building during the four weeks.

Student employees. For purposes of student employment, Dec. 20-Jan. 14 are considered non-academic weeks. If a unit has work available for them, supervisors may schedule student employees for more than 20 hours per week.

Not certain? Employees should direct questions about their unit's winter break plans to their supervisors. Questions about time-off processes over winter break can be directed to their HR delivery team.