Section 25.1 - Emergency Required for Suspension of Rules
The purpose of this Section is to provide for the suspension of all or any part of the Attendance Rules by the Civil Service Commission in an emergency situation.
An appointing authority may request, in the case of emergency, that any or all of the Attendance Rules be suspended by the Civil Service Commission. When there is a provision in a negotiated agreement which supersedes the Attendance Rules, the Commission has no authority to waive such negotiated provision. (See Section 26.3, "Rules Applicable to Employees in Negotiating Units".)
Nature of Request
A request for suspension of the Attendance Rules as provided by this Section must be made in writing to the Civil Service Commission by the appropriate appointing authority.
Each written request should include:
A more complete discussion of Commission criteria for suspension
of the Rules is found on
Other Provisions of the Attendance Rules
Apart from suspension of the Rules, other sections of the Attendance Rules provide for leave in certain "emergency" situations where suspension of the Rules would not ordinarily be required. Reference should be made to Section 20.3, "Tardiness," Section 21.7, "Leave for Extraordinary Weather Conditions," and sections of this Manual relating to vacation,...
... sick leave and personal leave which describe a number of "emergency"
situations. For a complete discussion of actions which may be taken
to deal with absences resulting from extraordinary circumstances,
See also related contract provision C-1
Authority of Agency Head to Deal Immediately with Emergency Situations not Restricted by Attendance Rules
Although suspension of the Attendance Rules, in whole or in part, cannot be ordered or directed by individual department or agency heads irrespective of the nature of the emergency, this in no way modifies or limits the authority and responsibility of such persons to take whatever actions they deem advisable and in the best interest of the State. Whenever the work environment is adversely affected by abnormal conditions which mandate that a work area be closed to employees, or that employees be removed from the area, the appointing authority is clearly free to deal with such emergency conditions without reference to the Attendance Rules. The closing of a State office is normally subject to approval of the Governor, and such action is not subject to review or approval by the Civil Service Commission.
Except for the maintenance of essential services, an appointing authority may deem it advisable to close a State facility because of a breakdown in the heating plant which has created an unbearable and unhealthy working environment and which conceivably could cause some employees to become ill. Assuming that it requires two workdays to repair the heating system, he/she may find it necessary to direct most, if not all, of the employees to stay away from work during that period. Although forced to absent themselves from work for reasons beyond their control, the employees shall be required to charge such absences against their leave credits or to suffer loss of pay if no credits are available. Unless and until the appointing authority requests an appropriate suspension of the Attendance Rules and the request is approved by the Civil Service Commission, failure to so charge such absences would be a direct violation of the Rules. Employees who are ordered to remain away from work or are forced to do so because of circumstances beyond their control and beyond the control of the appointing authority are not entitled to leave with pay without charge against credits.
Employees who are directed by the appointing authority to absent themselves from work after having reported for duty should not be required to charge such absences (for the remainder of the normal workday) to leave credits. No suspension of the Attendance Rules is required in the case of such early departures but the authority to excuse such absences without suspension of the Attendance Rules does not extend to:
See also related contract provision C-1
NOTE: When an employee is directed to leave his/her place of work for a prescribed period of time and advised to return to duty at a specific time later that same day (e.g., in the case of a "bomb threat" where the building is cleared and then declared safe), he/she shall be required to charge such early departure to his/her leave accruals if he/she fails to report for work at such specified time.
TO: State Department and Agency Heads
The past few years have included several extraordinary events that prompted requests to the Civil Service Commission for suspension of the Attendance Rules to allow employees to absent themselves from work without charge to their leave credits. Because of the number of these occurrences, and because it has been several years since the last communication on this subject, it is appropriate to update State policy concerning the continuation of essential services and employee absences in extraordinary circumstances.
An extraordinary circumstance is an emergency situation which interferes with or actually precludes employees from reporting to work, or remaining at work. Examples include blizzards, power failures, floods and fires.
The State's objectives during any extraordinary circumstance are:
Extraordinary circumstances may range from the relatively minor to the catastrophic. Appropriate actions taken under these circumstances must necessarily reflect that range in severity. The nature of the emergency will dictate which of the following actions may be appropriate.R-5
Pursuant to the Attendance Rules, an appointing authority may excuse a reasonable amount of tardiness without charge to leave credits when extraordinary circumstances delay the arrival time of a significant number of employees. It is urged that agencies in the same location communicate with each other regarding the amount of tardiness to be excused to avoid disparate treatment of employees.
Directed Early Departures
Provisions contained in the negotiated agreements and in the Attendance Rules authorize appointing authorities to direct early departures of employees in the event of extraordinary circumstances. Directed early departures must be without charge to leave accruals (except that weather-related directed early departures for Security Unit employees must be charged to leave credits) and apply only to employees who are present at the time the departure is directed. No special consideration is provided to staff who have been designated by the appointing authority to perform essential services and who are required to remain at the work site.
Before taking such action appointing authorities or designees must discuss proposed directed early departures with staff of the Employee Relations Section of the Department of Civil Service and the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. Immediately following the emergency such directed early departures must be reported in writing by the appointing authority to the Employee Relations Section and to the Governor's Office of Employee Relations.
While a directed early departure may not be deemed appropriate in all extraordinary situations, employees who wish to depart early may be advised by the appointing authority that they can leave and charge appropriate credits.
When extraordinary circumstances preclude employees from working at their regular work sites, agencies should make every effort to reassign employees to other work locations in the vicinity.
Agencies should establish procedures to notify employees when reassignment to another work site can be arranged.
Extraordinary circumstances may qualify as emergencies under provisions of the negotiated agreements for purposes of making schedule adjustments to provide necessary coverage. Schedule adjustments may be beneficial to employees by enabling them to complete full shifts.
Division of the Budget's guidelines for unscheduled overtime continue to apply in extraordinary circumstances.
Full-day absences must, in the first instance, be charged to leave credits or as leave without pay, at the employee's option.
Appointing authorities may subsequently request that the Civil Service Commission suspend the Attendance Rules to excuse full-day absences without charge to leave credits.
Each written request to the Commission should include this information:
Commission consideration of appointing authority requests to excuse full-day absences because of extraordinary circumstances has traditionally been based on criteria that included that one-day absences without charge to credits would not be approved, and when absences of more than one full day were excused, the first day would not be excused.
Criteria for future Commission determinations will differentiate between absences because of extraordinary circumstances and absences because State offices are closed. These differing criteria are as follows:
Extraordinary Weather Conditions
The Commission will continue to consider approval of requests to suspend the Attendance Rules when catastrophic weather emergencies of an extended duration affect a large number of employees over a wide geographic area. In the past such emergencies involved disasters relating to blizzards, floods, hurricanes, etc.
The Commission intends to continue its policy of not suspending the Rules for one-day absences because of extraordinary weather conditions. However, when suspension is approved for extended absences because of extraordinary weather conditions, the Commission will not automatically exclude approval for the first day of such absences.
Extraordinary Circumstances (Other Than Weather Emergencies) When Offices are Officially Closed
Occasionally the State, as an employer, may find it necessary to direct that offices be closed because buildings are uninhabitable due to fire, power failure, etc. Offices may be officially closed by the Governor, by official representatives of the office of General Services (in the case of buildings operated by OGS), or by an appointing authority (in the case of State-owned buildings not operated by OGS).
Procedures should be established by agency heads to deal with the official closing of leased office space. These procedures should take into account such factors as how many State agencies are located in the building and the resulting need for interagency coordination to ensure uniform treatment of employees, and the feasibility of reassignment of the employees.
All building closings should be reported to both the Employee Relations Section of the Department of Civil Service and the Governor's Office of Employee Relations before the public announcement of such closings.
The closing of an office or building does not automatically entitle employees to be absent without charge to leave credits. The Commission will, however, consider approval of requests for suspension of the Rules when offices are closed officially due to extraordinary circumstances and employees are absent for at least one full day and cannot be reassigned.
When suspension is granted because offices are closed, the Commission will not automatically exclude approval for one-day absences, or for the first full day of a longer absence.
Suspension of the Rules will not be approved when the closing of offices could have been anticipated (e.g., planned electrical shutdown, scheduled closing for holiday observance of non-State-owned building, etc.) where alternative arrangements could have been made, nor will the Commission approve suspension in cases where offices are safe and inhabitable, although not fully operational (e.g., electricity is temporarily off but the building has been deemed safe for occupancy, the heating system is temporarily not functioning but building temperatures do not constitute a health risk, etc.).
Dissemination of Policy on Extraordinary Circumstances
Agencies are responsible for communicating State policy on extraordinary circumstances to employees.
Agencies should establish and communicate specific procedures which supervisors and employees are expected to follow in the event of extraordinary circumstances. These guidelines should include, but not be limited to, identifying who is authorized to direct an early departure and what constitutes an official closing. It should be clarified that actions taken by local officials and media announcements not authorized by the appointing authority do not necessarily constitute an official closing or entitlement to time off without charge to leave credits.
Agency policies should address what is expected of employees in terms of reporting to work, providing the agency with a telephone number where they can be reached, and communicating with supervisors throughout an emergency situation for information on when and where to report. Agencies should also develop special procedures for designated employees who perform essential services to ensure that these services continue to be provided throughout the period of the emergency.
Any questions on this material may be referred to the Employee Relations Section of the Department of Civil Service (518) 457-2295.