Severe Weather Guidelines

In the event that severe weather affects operations at SFU campuses the following guidelines have been put in place. The safety of the campus community is always the university’s first priority and this guideline and FAQ is intended to help provide clarity across the organization for how to safely advise staff in the case of a severe weather.

If you have any questions about the severe weather guidelines for staff please contact your HR advisor.

Severe Weather and Limited Operations

In the event of severe weather, the University will rely on reports from Environment Canada, TransLink and observed conditions at each campus to determine if it is safe for operations and classes to continue or resume as normal. During severe weather events, decisions related to class cancellations and university operations are made by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Policy Group, which is chaired by the president of the university.

In the event of severe weather, and when the University determines it is unsafe to maintain normal operations, an email from SFU Communications will be sent to indicate the time at which the university is moving to limited operations. This email will be specific to each campus, will indicate the time limited operations will begin and will indicate when the next update will be available.

Also, in the event of class cancellation, an email advising of the status of classes will be sent from SFU Communications with the appropriate details.

As SFU provides a broad range of services, including student residences and Campus Security, the university does not ever close. Instead, when severe weather poses a safety risk for those travelling to and from campus, we move to limited operations in order to maintain a basic level of service on campus.

When the university moves to limited operations all staff who have not previously been contacted or identified as having a role during severe weather events should consult with their supervisors in preparation to leave campus in an orderly way. Employees not on campus during a move to limited operations and who are scheduled to work at the affected campus should be directed to not travel to work. 

When the university returns to normal operations an email will be sent from SFU Communications indicating the time when normal operations will resume. Employees should be asked by their supervisors to monitor the status of their campus on email and social media and to return to work as scheduled, when the university has returned to normal operations.

Limited operations will be considered an official university closure or a closure for the purpose of coding absences due to limited operations pursuant to GP 04 and Collective Agreements.


Frequently Asked Questions

1.      How will I know if my staff are required to stay on campus when the university moves to limited operations due to severe weather?

2.      All staff who play a role during severe weather events have been contacted and received information and training from Safety and Risk Services and their department. If you are unsure if you or your staff are included as part of this group please contact Laura Vajanto at

3.      What does limited operations mean exactly?

4.      Limited operations refers to when the university has determined that severe weather poses a safety risk for students, faculty and staff who are traveling to and from campus. In the event that the university’s operations cannot continue as usual, then limited operations are put in place to maintain a basic level of services on campus. Some examples include student residences, food services, Campus Security, first aid and animal care.

5.      Are staff paid if the university moves to limited operations during severe weather?

6.      If staff are directed to leave campus due to severe weather or are directed to not travel to campus due to severe weather then their salaries are maintained for the time that they are away from the office. Please refer to Policy GP – 04 (3.9) for details on how to handle time coding for relevant days.

7.      Salary maintenance should be recorded on timesheets as:

                                                              i.      Salary 530 University Closure

                                                            ii.      Hourly 285 University Closure

8.      What if the university is operating as usual but staff are not able to safely make their way to campus? Are they paid?

9.      Unless otherwise advised by your supervisor, employees are expected to report for work during weather events while the university remains in normal operations. During a weather event and while the university remains in normal operations, employees who are unable to report for work due to the weather or employees who may wish to remain at home during the weather event, may request to have their time coded as vacation or leave without pay.

10.  What happens if the university moves from limited back to normal operations halfway through the day? What should staff do?

11.  If the university returns to normal operations part way through the day then SFU will provide two hours notice to allow reasonable time for travel to campus to resume normal operations. Staff are expected to attend work during partial days unless they have previously had a vacation day approved, are taking time off without pay, or have an arrangement to work remotely.

12.  What if a staff member has a vacation day or other leave scheduled when the university has to move to limited operations?

13.  If a staff member is not scheduled to work, is on sick leave, receiving compensating time off for overtime, days of in lieu of statutory holidays, modified days off, normal days off, personal leave etc. their time should be recorded to reflect the leave approved before severe weather impeded operations.

14.  I have more questions regarding severe weather and how it may affect my team, who can I contact?

15.  If your questions is HR related, please call or email Jackie Davie @ 2-9313 or Eileen Lee @ 2-9640

16.  If your question is safety related or to find out who is considered part of limited operations, please contact Laura Vajanto.



For up to date information during severe weather:

·         Check your SFU email inbox for updates

·         Look at for updates and follow SFU on Twitter @SFU.

·         Check the roads status on the Burnaby Campus here: SFU Road Report page.

·         Follow Translink on Twitter @Translink or subscribe to Transit Alerts for the status of public transit

The Safety and Risk Services Severe Weather page also includes helpful procedures and resources for when there are snow events at the Burnaby campus.