My turn: holidays, snow days and paid time off

My turn: holidays, snow days and paid time off
Many employees were not allowed to come to campus because of weather, and will likely have to burn vacation.

I've been of the opinion that most government employees get treated fairly well when it comes to holidays and paid time off.

That's why I was a bit surprised to learn last week that the policy the UNC System follows when a campus is closed dictates that non-mandatory employees must use vacation time to cover for being kept away from the job.

I'll have to admit that I am in agreement with the UNCW and City of Wilmington employees that called our newsroom to complain.

I know many people have jobs that don't allow much flexibility as to when vacations can be scheduled.  But at least those people can plan for it.

To be told on the day of a weather event that you'll be on vacation just doesn't do much to foster positive employee relations…especially if you've just saved up the days necessary to go on a nice vacation.

On the flip side, we also heard from some unsympathetic people who don't get paid vacations or any pay at all if their work is canceled.  Most of those folks get very little opportunity to make that money up.

I sympathize with that too.  But the difference here is the government employees are having something they earned being taken away…and there is nothing they can do about it.

I just have to think there is a better way.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

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During the evening news on January 8th, I heard Ann McAdams reporting that, because of the frozen roads, some people lost out on wages because they couldn't get to work, or that their place of employment was closed.  Sadly, the only places of employment she referred to were government related with government related resources.  Because of lost wages, some of those employees felt they "were getting punished (by not getting paid) for something that was out of their control."  "Punished?"  
            If that statement wasn't enough, because of the weather, some were even forced to use up a vacation day so they could get paid?  
            I might be mistaken but I don't recall Ann interviewing any the thousands of non-government employers and employees who have to work (or sell) before they get paid. Being one of those workers, I don't, in any way, feel that lost wages due to bad weather was "punishment" by my 'unsympathetic' employer.  Not to mention… many of us don't have "vacation time" as a resource… or any "vacation" privileges for that matter.  
            Perhaps some might consider trying to fit into the shoes of those who actually contribute to America's economic engine, our backbone and pride; the private sector business people and their employees who couldn't get to work, or work, because of the weather.  If we're invoking sympathy, let's give it to those workers, who though they lost out on wages, are humble and wise enough to understand the most basic of business rules, "If you don't/can't work, then you can't get wages."  Pretty easy to understand, except for the entitled, who feel punished and more deserving than the next person with the same problems.  
            Gary, I hope that WECT can do a better job on telling both sides of the story, especially when those that suffered most and deserved the story, went unrepresented.  Thanks.


I expect that the government employees when hired were provided a copy of the vacation and absentee policy. They elected to work for the government and last time l checked government employees typically have as good or better benefits than most.


I work at a large doctors office.  We also are told to use vacation days or time off without pay for the days we were closed due to inclement weather.  It is noted in our employee handbook.

Don't think it's particularly fair but we really don't have a choice.  No one can control the weather but it ends up being a punishment in our paychecks in the end.

We used to have 3 paid inclement weather days per year but they got rid of that policy a few years ago.


I agree!  This policy applies to NCDPS employees also, many of which are faced with the choice of braving the dangerous icy roads or burning up their vacation time.  I'm sure there were many who have deposits on spring or supper vacations and now may not be able to take off because neighborhood streets were not safe for travel.  UNCW policies are probably common for other most state employees.


In the private sector, if you don't work... you don't get paid.  You have to make up lost hours by working weekends and it is not optional. I  am very tired of hearing State and Federal employees whine about their benefits. They are paid multiple vacation days that the private sector does not observe.  Most State and Federal employees my age (61) are retired drawing a nice pension while the private sector guys work away.


Mr. McNair, I usually agree with your commentaries but this time I think you may not have dug deep enough to develop a more realistic picture.
Maybe UNC-W's policy is as shallow as  portrayed to you but many Gov't jobs have better developed policies that pay employees when they are sent home when their work area is suspended for dangerous weather.
Some of these policies go deeper to cover employees who can't or don't come in when their agency reopens and also compensation for those that have to work during the storm closure.
I agree with you it is unfortunate for those that have no compensation when these events occur but quite a few are as a result a community being shut down by a greatly handicapped road system. We flunked on this storm. Yes, the cold weather was very severe for Wilmington to cope with and kept our city icy, but it seems we didn't try very hard to clear the streets , leaving our residents to stay in to the detriment of our local economy and our school schedules . What a wonder the use of more salt coupled with prudent scraping would have made. More businesses would have opened and our cmty would have been alive and productive.
Hopefully we learned from this one because there will be a bigger snowfall yet to come this winter.


Thank you for doing this piece. We had to use 19 hours of vacation or comp time which was upsetting. Some supervisors are great and will allow their direct reports to stay an extra hour or skip lunch over the next few weeks to help get some of that time back. Some supervisors will not. I had plenty of comp time but there are many employees who work customer service positions or are support staff who do not/cannot really do much outside of business hours and were required to use over two days of their vacation. Which is very concerning.


Over the past month I have seen several " special reports " concerning the unfairness claims made by the employees of UNCW stating they are forced to take vacation days or sick time if the campus is closed due to bad weather - and they can not work from home. I would like to give you a flip side on the New Hanover County Policy.

I am a 30 year retiree from New Hanover County - Sheriff's Dept/ 911 Center. During my hiring process, it was stressed to me that working under the sheriff we were different than the rest of the county employees. While 99% of the county offices were closed on Sunday, Holidays and during bad weather 3 main divisions of the sheriff's department NEVER closed patrol, jail & communications. So when news media ( as you ) would broadcast county offices closed that did not apply to us.

At the same time, we were never paid any differently either until the last 10 years I worked when the 911 center became it's own department. 
Then IF the governor declared our county as a state of an emergency, ( example during a hurricane ) we could get FEMA pay as well as our regular pay. As far as the other county offices that were closed, I always heard the employees either had the option to use vacation, sick or not get paid for the days missed. After all I have never seen any county office that is usually closed on the weekend, open to " make up " 
days like the school system does- and I bet you never will.

So let the professors have a make up day like the school system and lets see how may want to give up their weekend. It goes back to using their time wisely and saving it never knowing when an emergency will come up or what kind.