Operating within the University

Operating Within the University

The university maintains standard operating guidelines which serve as a foundation for the efficient and productive management of the university. This section provides managers with an overview of information on operational guidelines and work rules that managers should understand and follow.


University managers are responsible for helping to ensure the security, health and safety of employees under their supervision. The safety and security of people and property and the vital interests of the university should guide managers' actions. The links below provide managers with conventions and resources to help keep the workplace operational, safe, and secure for all employees.
Adverse Weather/Altered Scheduling


Operational Status During an Event

The university is committed to maintaining the safety of our community. GW may cancel classes, close buildings, campuses, or the entire university’s operations due to adverse weather and other emergency situations. Managers should understand the university’s operating statuses and how their employees should respond to them. Call-in procedures should be frequently updated and communicated to those who directly report to you, and in particular to new employees.

Designated On-Site employees hold positions that include job duties with services that must be performed despite an emergency or change in the university operating status. All Designated On-Site employees are required to report to work as scheduled, even if the university has announced an alternative operating status.

All Other Employees are those who do not perform the above-mentioned services. All union members should refer to their collective bargaining agreements.

For Designated On-Site Employees:

Situation Employee Resonse Managers' Responsibility
Delayed Opening Employees should report unless otherwise directed by manager. Ensure that prior to delayed opening, employees are aware of whether they have been selected to report on-time, or if they can report at the revised arrival time.
Open with Weather Flex Employees should report unless otherwise directed by manager.

Ensure that employees are aware of the following prior to event: 

  • If they must to report to work,
  • If they must report to work on-site,
  • If they are able to work remotely
Closed Employees should report unless otherwise directed by manager.

Ensure that employees are aware of the following prior to event: 

  • If they must to report to work,
  • If they must report to work on-site,
  • If they are able to work remotely


For All Other Employees:

Situation Employee Response Manager's Responsibility
Delayed Opening Employees should report to work at the revised time. N/A
Open with Weather Flex

Employees may:

  • Report to work on time,
  • Report to work after their normally scheduled start time,
  • Follow their department’s normal call-in procedure without being required to use accrued paid annual time off.
Prior to event, organize call-in procedure for employees to report whether they are going to be at work. Procedure should include identification of a designee to receive calls if the manager is unavailable.
Closed Employees are excused from work and will be paid for their scheduled hours. N/A

If you are unsure of your employee(s) designation, please contact your HR Business Partner.


Communications During an Event

During an event, a number of resources are available to check on the university’s operating status. The university will make an effort to communicate with local news sources. However, for up-to-date information regarding emergency communications, please visit campusadvisories.gwu.edu.

Note: The university recommends that employees check 202-994-5050 or the GW Campus Advisories website because the information from the university is often more accurate than information broadcast by the media.

If conditions cause one campus to remain open while another closes, employees should follow instructions for their primary work location.

When a decision to close the university occurs while employees are at work, departments will be notified, and managers should immediately communicate to all affected employees that report to them.


Environmental Health and Safety

Managers, in directing the day-to-day activities of employees, ensure that GW is a safe place to work. Managers need to be aware of the potential hazards within their workplaces. This section offers guidance regarding managerial responsibilities in providing a safe work environment and a review of employee rights and responsibilities within their workplace.

Managerial Responsibilities

Each manager is responsible for providing a work environment free from recognized health and safety hazards. University managers, including faculty managers and principal investigators, are responsible for implementing GW environmental health and safety conventions and procedures. Managers are also responsible for ensuring that workplaces and equipment are safe and that employees under their supervision are informed about their rights and responsibilities regarding health and safety. Managers must also ensure that:

  • Employees receive appropriate training and personal protective equipment
  • Employees comply with health and safety policies
  • All accidents and injuries are reported to Risk Management

The Offices of Environmental Health & Safety and Risk Management hosts a website containing links to information intended to protect the university community and its assets from the risk of accidental injury and financial loss.


Accident and Injury Reporting

The manager is responsible for reporting all accidents and injuries and ensuring proper workers' compensation procedures are followed. The manager must also encourage employees to promptly report health and safety problems without fear of reprisal and to take immediate action when unsafe acts or conditions are reported. Additional information about reporting accidents can be found in this guide under Risk Management.



The Office of Environmental Health & Safety assists managers to determine which safety training their employees are required to attend. Managers are expected to:

Ensure that each new employee, whether temporary or permanent, receives appropriate safety training at the start of employment Ensure that their employees receive the necessary safety training based on the work their employees perform Ensure that additional training is developed when new processes, procedures, or equipment are introduced to the workplace Ensure that employees are trained to identify and correct potential hazards associated with their work activities Document training Notify the Office of Environmental Health & Safety when equipment is purchased and safety training is provided by a vendor or outside contractor


Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Employee Rights Under OSHA

Employees have the right to a safe workplace and to know the potential hazards associated with their work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act gave employees many new rights, including the right to:

  • Review copies of appropriate standards and regulations available at the workplace.
  • Request information on safety and health hazards in the workplace, precautions that may be taken, and procedures to be followed if an employee is involved in an accident or is exposed to toxic substances.
  • Have access to relevant employee exposure and medical records.
  • Request the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to conduct an inspection if they believe hazardous conditions or violations of standards exist in the workplace.

Observe any monitoring or measuring of hazardous materials and see the resulting records

Employee Responsibilities

Managers must inform employees of their health and safety responsibilities, procedures, rules, and regulations. All employees are required to participate in the university's environmental health and safety program and must follow all applicable policies and procedures developed by the Office of Environmental Health & Safety. As part of their responsibilities, employee should:

  • Follow safe operating procedures and material safety data sheets associated with their work
  • Know emergency plans and procedures for their work areas
  • Become familiar with potential hazards associated with their work activities
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Report unsafe conditions and potential hazards to their managers
  • Use university facilities, equipment, and tools only for the purposes for which they were designed

Occupational Safety

The university has developed a number of occupational safety programs to ensure workers are afforded the protection they deserve. Managers must follow the guidance found on the Occupational Safety web page and its links. The links include guidance covering the following issues:

  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Ergonomics
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Respiratory Protection Program
  • Industrial Lift Trucks (Fork Lifts)
  • Power Tool Safety
  • Aerial Lifts

Safe Operating Procedure and Special Work Permits

Hazardous or potentially hazardous activities, such as entering confined spaces, performing hot work (i.e., welding or cutting), and implementing lockout or tagout procedures require the use of written safe operating procedures and special work permits to identify hazards and specify controls needed to eliminate or control these hazards. In addition, when water must be shut off to work on sprinkler systems, a red tag permit (glossary link coming soon!) must be implemented. Contact the Office of Risk Management for specific details concerning these procedures and permits.

Hazard Identification and Control

Managers are required to evaluate work procedures to identify hazards and implement measures to eliminate or control these hazards. Managers should conduct or participate in regular safety inspections to identify potential hazardous conditions and unsafe acts. As part of this process, managers should establish and enforce safe operating procedures. Visit the hazardous materials website for more information and links to additional resources.

Hazard Communications

Managers must inform employees about potential hazardous substances associated with their work activities and about control measures used to control these hazards. In following the university's Hazard Communication Program, managers are required to:

  • Maintain an inventory of all chemicals in the workplace
  • Ensure all chemical containers are labeled
  • Ensure material safety data sheets are accessible
  • Train employees to recognize and control hazards

Fire Safety

As a general rule, the university does not expect employees to fight fires unless specifically trained to do so. In the event fire or smoke are detected, employees should sound pull the nearest alarm and evacuate the building as quickly as possible. Under the university's Fire Prevention Plan, managers should make employees aware of potential fire hazards in their work areas and what control measures (for example, sprinkler and fire alarm systems and extinguishers) are in place to control them. As part of the training program, managers should instruct their employees on proper evacuation procedures, including:

  • How to activate the fire alarm and what emergency numbers to call
  • The locations of both primary and secondary exits
  • The locations of manual fire alarm pull stations and fire extinguishers
  • Avoiding use of the elevator in an emergency and reentering the building only after the all-clear signal has been given
  • Location of designated assembly areas

For additional information managers should refer to the Fire Safety section of the Office of Risk Management website.

Environmental Safety

Protection of the environment is the responsibility of managers and employees. Compliance with local and federal environmental regulations is required. Managers can help to ensure environmental compliance by implementing the university's hazardous materials management program. The program requires managers to:

  • Follow proper hazardous waste storage and disposal procedures.
  • Minimize waste to the greatest extent possible through procurement and material substitution.
  • Follow proper procedures governing the packaging and transportation of hazardous materials. For example, university or private vehicles must not be used to transport hazardous materials or equipment containing hazardous materials.
  • Report chemical spills to the Office of Environmental Health & Safety.
  • Contact the Office of Environmental Health & Safety or visit its web page for information about disposal, packaging, and transportation of hazardous materials.

For additional information managers should refer to the Environmental Health section of the Office of Risk Management website.


Information Technology

Staff and faculty have a responsibility to use GW’s technology resources and network in an effective and secure manner.  GW's investment in its information technology systems enables knowledge-sharing and the daily operations of the university. Managers have a dual role of ensuring both their employees' and their own compliance with the latest system use and security guidelines in order to protect university resources. This section highlights university conventions of information security and provides links to the information security resources available to GW employees.

Managers should model appropriate behavior and enforce policy related to computing systems and services. Managers should also be familiar with the quick links found on the Division of Information Technology website as well as the IT Support center website , which are designed to provide technology support as well as links to useful technology information and services.


IT Overview

GW’s Information Systems and Services (ISS) sets policy relating to information security issues and technologies. A top priority for ISS is to ensure computer security for university mission-critical systems. For security updates, please routinely visit the ISS Help Desk, which  provides detailed information needed by managers. Managers should take applicable training and know the security precautions that are applicable to their departments.

Guidelines and Services Contents Managers' Responsibilities
Information Security Policy Defines security-related responsibilities that users of GW systems have in protecting university information from unauthorized access, modification, disclosure, or destruction. Managers are expected to understand the importance of information security and how to report a security violation if one occurs.
Reporting Security Incidents Includes a definition and examples of security incidents and provides instructions to follow when a security incident is detected. Managers are responsible for immediately reporting network and security incidents that threatens GW's information systems.

News and Alerts

  • Virus News and Alerts

  • ISS News Email and Alerts

Communicates computer security issues to appropriate members of the university community:

  • The GW virus list provides notification of potential computer virus threats and critical updates to the corporate version of Norton AntiVirus. If you have a computer virus threat to report, please email us at [email protected]

  • ISS provides notification of scheduled and unplanned info systems outages, as well as important announcements. You can receive this news by Infomail email

Managers need to be aware of ISS updates and virus alerts and convey this information to their staff in a timely manner:

  • Subscribe to the virus list by sending an email to [email protected] with the words "subscribe virus" in the body of the message

  • Subscribe to the ISS News Email Alerts: To be added or removed from the fax or email list, email [email protected] or fax a request to 202-994-0101, attention: ISS

  • All Communications. Include your name and email address for the email list, fax number for the fax list, or both

Disaster Recovery/ Contingency Management Supports the Disaster Recovery team in documentation and communication of policies and plans. Provides useful and important guidance and training links. Managers are responsible for participating and providing the necessary information to facilitate recovery associated with interruptions of mission-critical business functions.
Securing Your Computer

How to determine the type of operating system on a personal computer:

  • Applying operating system patches

  • Installing antivirus software

  • Installing a firewall

  • Other security-related items of interest

Managers should encourage their staffs to take the five steps to securing their computers with the latest patches, fixes, service packs, and virus definitions.
Security Training, Awareness, and Reference Tool Tutorial designed to educate students and staff on securing our information and technology resources. Managers should make their staff aware of security training. The tutorial is designed to educate staff on securing information and technology resources.


IT Guidelines

The following table includes Information Systems and Services (ISS) policies and guidelines that all managers should be familiar with. These policies, as well as other university policies and conventions, can be found on the university policy center. Managers should review the Information Technology (IT) website and the IT Help Desk website frequently so that they are aware of the critical information and services that are available.

University Conventions Contents Managerial Responsibilities
Code of Conduct for Computing Systems and Services Provides guidance on the proper and allowable use of university-owned and -maintained computer equipment and networks. All employees must abide by the code. Managers need to be aware and hold employees accountable for their actions.
GW Web Content Policy Provides Web support and custom Web application development for GW.  ISS works in partnership with stakeholders across the university to evaluate the online needs of internal and external audiences, prioritize project requests against the university’s strategic goals and objectives, and schedule Web work in alignment with the university cycle. Managers or their staff may make web-related requests by filling out the ‘Web Request Form.’
GWMail Policy Governs usage of the GWMail email system. Details policies on unsolicited email, mass emails, listservs, message relaying, backups, virus protection, and inactive accounts. Also details inappropriate usage of a GWMail account. All eligible faculty, staff, and students must create and maintain a GWMail email account. This is required to facilitate the university's communication of academic, administrative, and emergency information. Managers need to ensure that their employees have access and maintain their GWMail account as well as abide by the GWMail policy. In addition, managers need to be aware of the procedures governing mass email requests.
System Access Policy Defines individuals' responsibilities in ensuring secured and appropriate access to university systems and defines the rules by which the university implements and administers application/data security for systems. Managers need to be aware of the procedures that are in place for requesting system access. Managers have a responsibility for monitoring their employees' job responsibilities and access rights to ensure appropriate access levels
NetID: Individual Accounts Policy The NetID is used for access to a number of GW systems. The policy governs the individuals' usage of the NetID system. Faculty, staff, and students eligible for a NetID must apply for one. Affiliated university constituents are also eligible for NetID accounts. Managers need to be aware of the procedures in place for acquiring a NetID, serving as account sponsors for affiliated university constituents, or both.
Telephone Usage Policy Defines responsibilities of both employees and departments with regard to the use of telephones and cellular phones. Managers are expected to understand the Telephone Usage policy as well as be aware of their role in the acquisition of service and usage by their employees.
Voice Mail Broadcast Policy Provides guidance on the proper use and procedures for broadcast voice mail messages. Managers need to be aware of the procedures on distributing a broadcast voice mail message.


GW Police Department

The GW Police Department is responsible for protecting life and property, conducting crime awareness and prevention programs, and enforcing D.C. laws, federal statutes and university rules and regulations. The GW Police Department website provides descriptions of its own and other GW community services, transportation, safety education, emergency procedures, compliance guidelines, statistics, and online forms. As leaders of the university, managers should be familiar with GW Police Department services. While some of the services are highlighted below, many more can be found on the GW Police Department website.

Managers should also be aware of the security precautions found in Section 4.5 of the Employee Handbook.

Preparation Tool Description Managers' Responsibility
Responsibilities of the University Community Includes basic reminders to help ensure safety.
  • As leaders on campus, managers should serve as a role model for appropriate behavior and encourage the same in their employees
  • Ensure that employees are aware of their responsibilities
Office Watch Initiative
  • A crime prevention initiative similar to a neighborhood watch program
  • The goal is to reduce the opportunities to commit crime on campus through a cooperative effort between the GW community and the University Police Department
  • This goal can be accomplished by establishing a formal network of communication between the University departments, their personnel, and the campus police
Each department is asked to participate in the Office Watch Initiative.
Crime Prevention Seminar After pledging to be part of Office Watch, a manager may invite a University Police Department employee to attend a department staff meeting to conduct a crime prevention seminar. Submit a Crime Prevention and Safety Programming request form to invite a University Police Department employee to a staff meeting
Crime Tips
  • The hotline provides GW and Foggy Bottom community members the opportunity to communicate directly, confidentially and anonymously with the Chief of the University Police Department about crimes and security concerns in the GW and Foggy Bottom area
  • Crime Tips Hotline: (202) 994-TIPS
Each department is asked to participate in the Office Watch Initiative.
Lost and Found
  • For lost and found items
  • For information about lost GWorld cards
Ensure that employees are aware of where to go if they have lost an item or found an item that is not theirs.
The Emergency Medical Response Group (EMeRG)
  • Basic life support, first-responder agency within the District of Columbia
  • Jointly sponsored by the Department of Emergency Medicine and the University Police Department
  • Includes GW community members with a minimum certification of Emergency Medical Technician
  • Make requests for EMeRG services, teaching services, or both for campus events
If an employee becomes seriously ill and needs emergency attention, call (202)-994-6111 for help.
Workplace Violence
  • Workplace violence has emerged as an important safety and health issue in today's workplace
  • Web site includes definition, general information, risk factors, connection to additional information, and more about workplace violence
Managers need to know what to look for and what to do in advance of any incident involving workplace violence.



The university maintains employee records for a variety of reasons. This section provides managers with important information about university procedures for creating, updating, and maintaining these records.


Creating Employee Records

The university creates an official employee record for each employee. These records are established under the employee's name and a unique identification number. While all official employee records reside in HR Information Systems (HRIS), departments and managers may also maintain a file of pertinent employment and performance data. However, departments and managers should provide original, relevant documents to HRIS.

In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, medical records and Employment Eligibility (I-9) forms are maintained separately and are not part of the official employee records.


Updating Employee Information

It is important that the university have current and accurate information for all employees. Therefore, employees should be encouraged to report any changes in status (name, SSN, address, telephone number, marriage, etc.) in a timely matter.

Managers who become aware of changes in an employee's status should:

If the employee does not complete the steps listed above, the manager should forward the information to HRIS on behalf of the employee.


Maintaining Employee Records

Maintaining and updating employee records is the responsibility of the following departments:

  • Human Resource Management and Development
  • Student Employment
  • Office of Research Services
  • Office of Faculty Personnel
  • Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships


Retaining Employee Records

The university retains official employee records for the entire employment period and for seven years after the employee leaves the university. Thereafter, selected data from the employee records will be extracted and retained. All other information will be destroyed in a secure manner.

When an employee leaves the university, managers should forward leave records for employees in regular positions to HRIS for inclusion in the employee's records.


Licensure Verification and Retention

Many departments have employees who are required by law to hold a license in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia to perform their jobs. Expiration of a license may subject an employee to termination.

Departments and managers are responsible for:

  • Verifying the licensure status of any relevant employees
  • Maintaining on file a copy of the current license
  • Maintaining a current listing of employees and their licensure status
  • Ensuring that relevant files are available for review by management and by accrediting agencies


Confidentiality and Employee Records

Employee records are university property and are treated as confidential. Employee records may only be disclosed to individuals who have a legitimate need for the information and only under the circumstances described in this section. Employees entrusted with access to official employee records held in HRIS must sign a confidentiality agreement.


Disclosure of Employee Information to Current and Former Employees

Employee information may be disclosed on a need-to-know basis to a manager and to the following administrative functions: Human Resource Management and Development (HRMD), Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Payroll Services, Office of Risk Management, Office of General Counsel, GW Police Department (GWPD) and others as approved by the Associate Vice President for Human Resource Management and Development. The Director of HRIS must approve disclosure of employee information.

Current and former employees may review their employee records during regular business hours in HRIS. One copy per year of documents contained in the record will be provided upon request and without cost.

If an employee finds an error in his or her information (e.g., name, social security number), the employee should contact HRIS by phone at 571-553-3679. If an employee locates a problem with disciplinary paperwork or performance evaluations, the employee should contact the EEO & Employee Relations Division by phone at 202-994-9656.


Disclosure of Employee Information to Parties Outside the University

HRIS will provide official information for all current or former employees as outlined below:

  • General Employee Information: Name, employment date, termination date, title, and department are considered general employee information and may be disclosed without the consent or knowledge of current or former employees.
  • Legal Requirements: In response to a subpoena, warrant, court order, other legal compulsion, or request from authorized government agencies, appropriate records may be disclosed without the consent or knowledge of current or former employees. Please refer to the Legal Matters section and the Office of General of Counsel for more information.
  • Emergencies: When necessary to protect the health, safety, or property of any person, appropriate records may be disclosed without the consent or knowledge of current or former employees.
  • Threats to the University: When necessary to protect the university, appropriate records may be disclosed without the consent or knowledge of current or former employees.

Payroll Services will respond to inquiries regarding specific earnings with the written consent of the employee.


Disclosure of Employee Information to the Media

Contacts by the media regarding current and former employees should be referred, without response, to the Office of University Relations.


Providing Employee References

HRIS will respond to requests for employment references for past or present staff members. Managers receiving a reference request should refer the request, without response, to HRIS. HRIS will use the official personnel record to respond and will consult with individual departments to gather other information as needed. To ensure that employee records are up-to-date, departments and managers should promptly forward completed performance evaluations to HRIS and initiate the hire and termination process in a timely manner.

Responses to reference requests will generally be limited to the following information: confirmation of official job title(s), department(s), and dates of service. If an employee or requestor provides written consent, HRIS will release additional information.


Managers have a responsibility to promote a fair and productive working environment. General employment guidelines help to foster this environment and ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

To ensure that they are in compliance, managers should consult with their HR representative when they have questions regarding state and local employment practices or GW policies and practices.


Minimum Wage

The university pays its employees based upon the District of Columbia's minimum wage regardless of where the work office is located.


Overtime Pay

If the combined number of hours worked by a nonexempt employee exceeds 40 hours in a workweek, the nonexempt employee must be paid at the overtime rate for hours worked in excess of 40. The combined number of hours for all positions at the university must be included in the calculation of overtime pay. The overtime rate is one and a half times the employee's regular hourly rate unless otherwise prescribed by contract.

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) provides legal guidance and helps resolve legal disputes on a broad range of matters affecting the university. General guidelines on how to respond to a variety of legal situations, including subpoenas and other legal notices as well as contact from various regulatory officials, can be found on their website. Information on the site is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. If you have questions regarding legal matters that affect or involve the university, please contact the OGC directly.