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HR advisory on returning employees to work after winter storm closures

Sunday, February 21, 2021

This HR Advisory is intended to help supervisors and employees navigate various situations and provide helpful information, tools and resources, including frequently asked questions (FAQs). 

Supervisor Expectations

Upon return to work (remote or onsite), employees may have challenges in their personal life related to their homes and/or family members after the winter storm that impacted the power grid and water supply. Many will have to deal with this on top of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. As a supervisor, we ask you do the following:

  • Stay in touch with your team members to keep them informed of the status of campus and department operations
  • Be flexible, where possible, with work hours/schedule and location
  • Be understanding of the employee’s situation as we are a caring organization
  • Consult with your human resources team members (contact information below) if you have questions or need additional guidance

Employee Expectations

Everyone’s safety is our priority and concern. Communication is key during these challenging times. It is more important than ever to keep your supervisor informed of the things that impact your ability to work. As an employee, we ask you do the following:

  • Inform your supervisor immediately if a change happens that impacts your ability to work either remote or onsite
  • Use and report the appropriate leave if you are unable to work and unable to get approval to flex your schedule for the week
  • Access Employee Assistance Program resources if needed (UNT System websites may experience temporary outages as technology-based services impacted by the winter storm are restored)

Time Reporting Requirements

  • Employees received an email Friday morning detailing payroll and timekeeping processes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What if an employee is unable to return to work (remote or onsite) when directed due to home maintenance issues related to the recent natural disaster?
Supervisors should be as flexible as possible with employees by providing flexible schedules, allowing for temporary work assignments or approving the use of accrued leave (e.g., vacation, compensatory time, etc.). Sick leave can only be taken for reasons that qualify under the sick leave policy.

If an employee needs to be out of work beyond the closure period, what leave can be used for this additional absence?
An employee may be approved to use their accrued vacation, compensatory time, floating holiday (if applicable) or star performer award (if applicable). Use of sick leave is limited to qualified reasons outlined under the sick leave policies. Please consult with your HR representative to discuss all options prior to making a final decision.

Will there be hazardous duty pay provided to employees required to work because they are considered ‘essential employees’ during the closure?
Hazardous duty pay is a pay benefit provided under Texas law for specific types of employees (e.g., commissioned peace officers) and cannot be used for any employee who is required to work during the closure. However, regular employees who work during the closure may earn compensatory time equivalent to the time worked (1.0 hour worked = 1.0-hour compensatory time earned). The employee must use this time within 12 months of earning it or it will expire.

How do employees get paid if they can’t submit time because the Time and Labor system within the Enterprise Information System (EIS) is down or do not have access to the internet?
Payroll will send out communications regarding the proper steps that must be taken to get employees paid. If you are having difficulty connecting to EIS, entering or approving time, please contact your supervisor immediately. Supervisors will work with Payroll to help resolve any issues.

What if an employee does not have internet service or connectivity to effectively work remotely?
The employee should contact their supervisor immediately. If an employee is unable to effectively work remotely because of their personal connectivity problems, the employee will need to request to use accrued leave (e.g., vacation, compensatory time), request to work onsite or request to work an adjusted schedule (flex schedule) to make up missed work hours. If unable to work due to the disruption of campus services, your supervisor will provide further instruction that may include temporary work assignments or system or university paid time off, if available and approved. 

When will I know to return to my work (remote or onsite)?
There are multiple ways that communications will be shared with the employees and general public – email, automated phone systems, automated text systems and campus social media pages (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Supervisors should also reach out to employees to inform them of any requirements to return to work.

What if I notice a safety concern in my work area (leaking water, cold temperature, etc.)?
The safety of our employees is our priority. If you identify a safety concern in the work area, please immediately contact your supervisor and your Facilities department.

What if an employee’s childcare facility or school is closed?
If an employee is unable to work due to their childcare facility or school being closed, the employee should contact their supervisor immediately. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to be flexible with work hours/schedule or allow the employee to use eligible accrued leave. Use of sick leave is limited to qualified reasons outlined under the sick leave policies.

 

Are financial resources available to employees from the state or federal government who are unable to work and receive pay? 
Depending on the employee's situation, some benefits may be available at the state level. Please refer to the Texas Workforce Commission to learn more about Disaster Unemployment Assistance. We are currently unaware of any federal benefits.

Campus Contacts

UNT

HSC

UNT Dallas

System Administration

  • HR Executive Director: Angela Brown (214) 571-2424 or Angela.Brown@untsystem.edu
  • System Admin Human Resources: (214) 571-2426 or HR@untsystem.edu
  • Office of Risk Management: (972) 338-1412
  • Office of Facilities: (214) 571-4800
  • System Administration staff housed at campus locations shall follow the standard protocols of that campus.