Administration actions anger

By Rachel Breitenfeld

During the recent blizzard, University employees were required to use vacation time to cover their absence if they did not report to work, even those considered “non-essential.” Here is the Chancellor’s e-mail to University employees: “Non-essential employees who did not report for duty this morning may use accrued benefits for their shift today (e.g., vacation, floating holiday, comp time) or, if they were ill, sick leave.”

Although The News-Gazette (“UI follows other area schools and cancels classes”) stated that non-essential personnel were told to stay home, employees were never clearly informed of that request. This is the e-mail sent to University employees at 8:40 a.m.: “All classes have been canceled… U. of I. employees who have been designated as essential personnel are expected to report to work.” Nothing is said requesting non-essential personnel to stay home.

In another e-mail, Chancellor Herman states that non-essential employees who did report to work would be paid for their entire shift even if they were sent home early by their supervisors. So it seems that employees were expected to report, at least briefly, to avoid taking a forced vacation day.

While employees who were not sick could report their absence as sick leave, many would see that as dishonest.

University employees who couldn’t report because of safety concerns shouldn’t be punished for circumstances beyond their control by losing a vacation day. Chancellor Herman should change this policy to avoid employees endangering themselves in severe weather.