HRM-036: Use of Disaster Leave
- Disaster Leave to Provide Emergency Services
- Disaster Leave for an Employee who is a Victim of a Disaster
The University strives to protect the status of its employees during a major disaster while maintaining business continuity. The University, as an employer, has taken steps to accommodate those employees who possess skills that can be transferred to disaster operations during a declared state of emergency or disaster. In addition, the University recognizes that there may be instances in which an employee may personally suffer a loss of his/her primary residence during a declared disaster requiring the employee to be absent from work. The University has established paid leave in the form of Disaster Leave to be used by its employees during a relief effort.
The University provides paid time off in the form of two types of disaster leave to its employees. The amount of leave permitted on an annual basis is 5 business days for faculty, postdoctoral research associates, and senior research staff; and 40 hours for staff and research assistants. The opportunity exists to extend the leave an additional 5 business days/40 hours, respectively.
The preparation for and the carrying out of functions (other than functions for which military forces are primarily responsible) to prevent, minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from natural or man-made disasters, together with all other activities necessary or incidental to the preparation for and carrying out of the foregoing functions. These functions include, but are not limited to: fire-fighting services; police services; medical and health services; rescue; engineering; warning services; communications; radiological, chemical and other special weapons defense; evacuation of persons from stricken areas; emergency welfare services; emergency transportation; emergency resource management; existing or properly assigned functions of plant protection; temporary restoration of public utility services; and other functions related to civilian protection. These functions also include the administration of approved state and federal disaster recovery and assistance programs.
An official status declared by the President of the United States when he deems that federal assistance is needed under the Strafford Act (P.L. 93-288 as amended) to supplement state, local, and other resources to deal with the effects of a variety of natural or man-made catastrophic events.
An event caused by the action of one or more persons that imperils life and property and produces danger or the imminent threat of danger through exposure to biological, chemical, or radiological hazards, as defined in Va. Code §44-146.16. Examples include large spills resulting from transportation or industrial accidents, and effects of terrorist acts. Some man-made disasters may also be called technological disasters.
An event of nature that causes extensive and/or severe threat to or destruction of life and/or property, as defined in Va. Code § 44-146.16. Typically, such situations are the result of wind, earthquake, blizzard, ice storm, widespread fire, or flood.
Primary Personal Residence:
The home or apartment in which the faculty, staff, or professional research staff member resides most of the time. This does not include vacation or second homes, nor property owned but not occupied by the individual. Normally, this location will bear the official address as recorded by the city or county where the dwelling is located.
Specialized Skills or Training:
Specific, definable skills or training that enables an individual to provide certain identified emergency services requested by public officials during a disaster. These skills and training may or may not be related to the qualifications used in the individual’s University job.
State of Emergency:
The status declared by the Governor of Virginia (see Va. Code §44-146.17) or of another state for conditions of sufficient severity and magnitude that assistance is needed to supplement the efforts of localities and other relief organizations.
Disaster leave may be granted to provide requested emergency services in a declared state of emergency or major disaster when requested by an authorized agency and approved in writing by the immediate supervisor. The amount of Disaster Leave permitted on an annual basis is:
- 5 business days for faculty (which includes academic, administrative and professional faculty), postdoctoral research associates, and senior research staff; and
- 40 hours for staff (which includes classified and University staff) and research assistants.
These amounts may be extended an additional 5 business days/40 hours, respectively, when requested and approved.
Classified Staff are covered under State policy, 4.17 Emergency Disaster Leave.
[Note: The University may assign an individual who provides emergency services as part of his/her normal job duties to assist in a disaster area. In such cases, this policy would not apply. The time will be treated as normal hours of work and will not be considered leave under this policy.]
Individuals who are victims of disasters (natural or man-made) may be granted paid time off as Disaster Leave with annual limits as noted above. (For more information, refer to Section 2, Leave for an Employee Who is a Victim of a Disaster.)
At the end of each calendar year, any unused hours will not carry forward and will not be eligible for cash payout.
Requesting Disaster Leave to Provide Emergency Services: Faculty, staff, and professional research staff (includes research assistants, postdoctoral research associates, and senior research staff) must request Disaster Leave in accordance with procedures established by the University. The decision to grant leave is solely within the discretion of the immediate supervisor, taking into consideration the need for the individual’s assistance and the expected impact of the absence on the school or unit’s ability to maintain services.
Extended Leave to Provide Emergency Services: Faculty, staff and professional research staff asked by emergency/relief service authorities through a federal or state agency to extend their service beyond the first week (5 business days or 40 hours) of Disaster Leave, may request approval from their immediate supervisor to continue service and use a second week of leave.
Any emergency/relief service approved beyond the maximum must be performed using other sources of leave subject to the policies that govern such leaves (e.g., volunteer service leave, appropriate accrued leave, or leave without pay). [Refer to the University Human Resources website and employment category for these leave policies.]
The University will not pay for expenses related to providing emergency service, such as travel, food, lodging, supplies, equipment, etc.
Events that Qualify for the Provision of Emergency Services: Faculty, staff, and professional research staff may be granted leave to provide emergency services if all of the following criteria are met:
- The geographic area is covered by an official declaration of major disaster by the President of the United States, or a declaration of a State of Emergency by the Governor of Virginia or the governor of another state; and, except for Classified Staff (unless otherwise authorized by the State), an international body or the government of a foreign country.
- Public officials at the site of the disaster have requested from federal or state government officials the assistance of individuals with specialized skills or training.
- The individuals possess the required specialized skills or training requested by the authorities.
- Individuals present written requests to provide emergency services and obtain approval prior to using leave under this policy.
Evaluating Requests for Disaster Leave to Provide Emergency Services: The Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) coordinates requests received from federal and/or state government officials with applicable areas in the University. Leave shall be granted at the discretion of the immediate supervisor as noted below. In evaluating requests, the immediate supervisor (in consultation with department administration) should consider the need for the individual to provide the specified assistance and the expected impact of the individual’s absence on the school’s or unit’s ability to fulfill its mission.
All employees must request permission for leave to provide emergency services in response to a declared state of emergency or disaster from their immediate supervisor (e.g., department chair, unit manager, supervisor, principal investigator, etc.).
Prior to awarding paid leave, required documentation must be on file that establishes that the criteria outlined in Section 1D above have been met. The immediate supervisor shall make a recommendation: (1) based on the information as required in Section 1D above; and (2) written confirmation that adequate arrangements have been made to meet the individuals’ teaching or other job responsibilities during the requested leave of absence.
Leave for an Employee who is a Victim of a Disaster: Leave may be available under this policy to an employee who has sustained severe or catastrophic damage to or loss of his/her primary personal residence, or has been ordered to evacuate that residence, as a result of a natural or man-made emergency or disaster.
An employee requesting such leave must meet all criteria noted below:
- The event resulted in a formal declaration of a State of Emergency or of federal disaster status.
- The employee’s primary personal residence was located in the officially declared disaster area.
- The employee’s primary residence is temporarily or permanently uninhabitable as formally documented by disaster relief organizations or insurance companies.
The immediate supervisor has sole discretion for authorizing the use of Disaster Leave for an employee who is a victim of a disaster in the increments and up to the maximum permitted as noted previously. In cases for which it is impossible to request leave in advance (e.g., immediately following a disaster when communications are unavailable), paid leave may be granted retroactively by the supervisor upon written request.
The University will not pay for expenses incurred by the individual in recovering from the personal effects of a disaster.
The Office of Emergency Preparedness is responsible for:
- Confirming the declaration of a state of emergency or emergency or major disaster by the President of the United States, Governor of Virginia, governor of another state, an international body, or government of a foreign country;
- Coordinating requests from the Commonwealth of Virginia and relief organizations;
- Notifying (in collaboration with University Human Resources) the University community of a need for volunteers in a qualifying emergency situation;
- Coordinating the University’s effort in providing volunteers when an emergency situation has been declared;
- Developing information packets for employees with pertinent information regarding required inoculations, travel, and contact information with relief agency (checklist of requirements); and
- Establishing a process for employees to submit skills and certification information.
University Human Resources is responsible for:
- Communicating the Use of Disaster Leave policy;
- Notifying (in collaboration with OEP) the University community of a need for volunteers in a qualifying emergency situation;
- Obtaining current employee licensures/certifications with expiration dates;
- Maintaining a database of self-identified volunteers with respective skills and certifications;
- Corroborating that the employee possesses the relevant specialized skills or training;
- Contacting the supervisor and employee when a request has been made for specialized services;
- Receiving the signed Leave Approval Form from the employee;
- Assisting employees with questions pertaining to health insurance coverage and other benefits, policy and procedures relevant to disaster situations;
- Following up with employees upon return from the field with referral resources; and
- Monitoring and administering the leave process.
The Executive Vice President and Provost is responsible for:
- Communicating the Use of Disaster Leave policy to school deans and others as applicable;
- Advising the academic areas on good practices of implementation; and
- Serving as the primary resource on policies related to leave for faculty.
- Knowing and understanding this policy;
- Discussing with the employee and department administration, if necessary, the impact of the employee’s leave on business operations;
- Evaluating requests for Disaster Leave in a timely manner, and where applicable, submitting a recommendation for the leave;
- Verifying that required documentation is obtained and maintained on file in accordance with record retention requirements; and
- Ensuring that University services are maintained during the employee’s leave period.
- Knowing and understanding this policy;
- Providing certification and/or licensure information and updating this information as necessary;
- Following established procedures to submit a request for leave;
- Discussing with supervisor the impact of leave on school/unit business operations;
- Assuming costs associated with travel, lodging, and meal expenses, if not otherwise provided by an outside entity;
- Providing the required documentation or verification as required in this policy; and
- Planning for continuation of important tasks during the absence.
The State's Emergency/Disaster leave Policy is set out in the Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM) Policy 4.17. This policy was promulgated under the general grant of authority to DHRM by section 2.2-1201(13) Code of Virginia. Policy 4.17 was promulgated on September 25, 2003 (in response to Hurricane Isabel).