What exactly does a soft closure mean for me as an employee? Can a supervisor require employees to work doing a soft closure? How does this help the university as a whole?
“Soft closure” is for departments that have the option to close their office or reduce their hours of operation. A “hard closure” is a required closure that offers few exceptions. (Departments with health and safety responsibilities, such as fire and police, are in this exempt category.) While employees are encouraged to participate in the soft closure, there may not be forced leave. Employees may choose to work even if the department is closed during that time.
Employees who use their leave help their departments manage their costs because of how that leave is budgeted for. Taking leave is also an important part of balancing our personal and professional lives, and helps our workforce be more efficient and creative.
This academic year’s winter closure will be Dec. 25, 2017, through Jan. 2, 2018. Additional soft closure days may be observed Dec. 20-22, 2017, and Jan. 3-5, 2018.
Four days of the winter closure period are paid holidays: Dec. 25, Dec. 26, Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.
Three days of the winter closure period are considered a hard closure: Dec. 27, Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. Employees will need take annual leave, leave without pay, faculty time off or a furlough day.
Employees who choose to participate in soft closure dates (Dec. 20-22, Jan. 3-5) will need also need to take annual leave, leave without pay, faculty time off or a furlough day.
Holiday pay for those eligible will not be affected regardless of the type of leave taken.
Department supervisors and unit leaders determine who is required to work to maintain UAF operations during soft closure periods. Additionally, as Jan. 3 is the first day of Wintermester, offices that provide direct services to students should be reasonably staffed on that day and should consult with Summer Sessions before planning closures.
Once the business hours for a department have been determined and announced by the supervisor, employees should coordinate with their supervisor regarding leave options and schedules. Employees should be aware that retirement eligibility (PERS and TRS) may be affected if leave without pay exceeds 10 days in a calendar year.
If you have additional questions, please contact Human Resources at 474-7700.
— Brad Lobland, director, Human Resources