To actualize the principle of Conservation the following universal policies apply:
Land Preservation – Policies affecting the land shall be written so as to preserve as much of the natural environment of the Laurel Caverns property as possible.
Endangered Species – All Laurel Caverns employees are to conduct themselves with respect to endangered species in a way that first addresses the safety and health of the park’s visitors and staff while doing what can be reasonably done to protect those species.
Bat Hibernation Season – Laurel Caverns is to be closed following the first Sunday in November and is not to reopen until the middle of April, each year.
Cave Preservation – Laurel Caverns, to the degree possible, is to be returned to and kept in its natural state. All graffiti, except those of special historical significance in the Hall of the Mountain King and the room called the stomach are to be removed. All laws related to cave vandalism are to be enforced.
To actualize the principle of Propriety the following universal policies apply:
Service Counters – All service areas and gift shop displays are to be maintained in a clean and attractive way under the supervision of the Day Manager. Of special concern is the following: (1) Employee food and beverages shall not be placed or kept on the service counter or in the display counters. (2)The service desk personnel are to keep their food in the service desk annex and all other employees are to keep their food in the staff lounge. (3) Display areas are to be kept dust free. (4) All visitor signage placed on walls is to be done on wooden signs.
Restrooms – All restrooms are to be maintained in a clean and attractive way. A review of each is to be done hourly by, or under the supervision of, the Day Manager.
On-Premise Residences – The exterior of on premise residences are to be maintained in a clean and attractive way.
Hallways and Classrooms – The hallways and classrooms are to be maintained in a clean and attractive way. A review of each is to be done on a daily basis.
Grounds – The grounds, roadways, and parking areas are to be maintained in a clean and attractive way. Litter pick-up is to be done on a daily basis.
Friendliness – Friendliness is to a person what proportion is to a painting; its absence ruins everything else. An inability on the part of any Laurel Caverns Conservancy employee to be friendly and welcoming will be dealt with as fairly as possible. It will be judged on the basis of program evaluations. If it cannot be corrected, it will result in discharge.
Adopt-a-Highway – The Conservancy maintains litter control on three miles of Skyline Drive, from Kirby Road to the Pond Field Tower entrance. Participation in this Penn-DOT program is under the supervision of the Director of Maintenance and is to be done in accord with all Penn-DOT guidelines, particularly those related to safety.
The Cave Itself – All interpretive and caving staffers are to pick-up litter in the cave as they see it and report to the Day Manager any maintenance issue they cannot address. A waste container shall be maintained at a point about mid-tour to allow families and other responsible visitors to take just purchased food and beverages on the tour. The guide shall politely make mention that all litter must be held until this waste container is reached.
To actualize the principle of professionalism the following universal policies apply:
Assessments by Visitors: Every school field trip, group cave tour, scout troop and caving group is to be a given a satisfaction survey to be placed in the suggestion box.
Base Rate: The base rate is the starting wage rate available to every employee to which all other remunerations are added. The base rate for 2017 shall be $10.00 per hour.
Decorum – The Laurel Caverns Conservancy is in great part a team initiative. The professional image of each member of the team is intrinsically tied to the image of the Laurel Caverns Geological Park. Employment assumes one has a positive attitude toward the organization and its employees. Termination may result if this assumption is challenged by the use of terminology which can be taken as disparaging to the organization or a person within it in any media accessible to one’s fellow employees.
Discharge – The word “discharge” refers to the obligations of the Conservancy and an employee when the employee leaves the Conservancy. A discharge may either be voluntary, seasonal, conditional or involuntary. All departing employees, shall complete, or have completed on their behalf, a form called the Employment Separation Report. This form shall serve as the complete record of voluntary, seasonal, conditional and involuntary discharges. It shall have the following: (1) a section providing for times and persons involved, (2) four divisions, one each for voluntary, seasonal, conditional and involuntary discharges with comment lines appropriate to each, and (3) statements with respect to the returning of keys, lockers, payments due, W-2 contact, recall, and the like.
Dress Code Policy – A dress code is required to allow visitors to be able to distinguish between the employees of Laurel Caverns, who are their host, and their fellow visitors who are not their host. This policy shall have the following elements:
- Name Tags: All employees whose job for the day requires them to interact with the public must wear a name tag. The Director of Visitor and Staff Services is in charge of choosing, ordering, and supplying appropriate name tags. The Day Manager is to send anyone home who refuses to wear the name tag supplied by Laurel Caverns.
- Uniforms: Uniforms are to consist of Laurel Caverns jackets, vests, T-shirts and sweatshirts. T-shirts are not to serve as outer garments for cave tours and educational classes except during very warm weather. A Laurel Caverns jacket, shirt, or sweatshirt is to be worn for all cave tours, rappelling instruction, and classroom appearances. No Laurel Caverns garment is needed for caving trips though coveralls are recommended.
- Unprofessional apparel: Facial jewelry, oddly colored hair, clothing expressing vulgar themes, torn blue jeans and all other apparel indicating an unprofessional lack of maturity on the part of the employee is prohibited. Shorts are not to be worn. Socks and appropriate shoes and slacks are required. Where the Programs Manager feels this code has been violated a PIP is to be put in place.
Friendliness – Friendliness and patience are to mark every interaction by an employee of the Conservancy with a guest.
Full Time – Part Time Distinction – Full time status shall be determined by each employee’s response to the availability sheet. Employees who place no restrictions on their availability during the months of May through October, i.e. they take their days off according to their work requirements at Laurel Caverns and do not limit their availability for school, other employment, family commitments and other private reasons shall be considered full time. Any employee whose availability for scheduling is limited by the employee for reasons established by the employee, e.g. school, other employment, family commitments, and private reasons, to less than four days a week shall be considered part time.
Leave: In the event the an employee takes a leave of absence without written notice the Conservancy can only assume the employee has quit without notice. Otherwise, any leave of absence will be handled according to the rules of law (see the Family and Medical Leave Act poster in the staff lounge), i.e. maternity leave or military service, compensation and the individual’s relationship to the Conservancy shall be determined by the requirements of the sanctioning laws.
Mentoring: As a form of teaching in the workplace, these communications are usually oral, though written advice is preferred, particularly in the form of well thought out work orders. Where oral advice is ignored written statements are to be introduced. Where written instructions are ignored, the supervisor involved is encouraged to draft a Performance Improvement Plan.
Overtime: Overtime hours are to be avoided wherever possible. Overtime shall be paid for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. All overtime other than that created by an extended workday must be pre-approved by the manager.
Performance Assessment – In addition to evaluation on the basis of their adherence to the other seven general principles, all programs, interpreters, instructors and other Conservancy employees are to be regularly evaluated on the basis of the following task-specific performance criteria. All programs are to have their expectations categorized as follows:
- Integrity: Every program conducted by the Conservancy is to be in compliance with the mission and eight principles of the Conservancy.
- Preparation: All instructors scheduled for group tours or programs are to have the scheduled room set up prior to the group’s arrival with all materials needed to run the program. After the program, the room is to be cleaned and prepared for the arrival of the next group.
- Timeliness: All programs and tours are to start on time.
- Decorum: Every program and tour is to be led by someone whose appearance and manner is marked by friendliness, respect, and professional conduct.
- Proficiency: Every program and tour is to be led by someone who has a full grasp of the material to be presented and is able to convey that material.
- Efficiency: The waste of time and materials is to be avoided.
- Cooperativeness: A team spirit, emotional stability, and a sense of sharing are to be a hallmark of the organizational culture of Laurel Caverns.
- Effectiveness: The outcome of every program and tour must be positive. Evaluations by the visitors involved will serve as the measure of effectiveness.
Performance Improvement Plan: A “PIP” is outlined in a form to be completed for policy failures, both universal and task specific, which do not involve zero-tolerance behavior. This plan can cover everything from an abuse of parking assignment to a failure on visitor satisfaction surveys. It shall be printed in duplicate and have the following structure: (1) a section providing for times and persons involved, (2) a section showing the assessment categories affected and the specific observation which indicated the need for the plan, (3) a section noting why the specific observation negatively impacts the mission of the Conservancy and the particular communication, if any, from the Conservancy to the employee which was given, or should have been given, (4) a section offering the employee tangible and measurable performance goals and identifying any training, mentoring or other assistance needed by the Conservancy, (5) a section identifying any recommendations to management and the officers of the Conservancy for policy changes or corrections, (6) a section identifying the reasonable date by which the plan is to be fully implemented and reviewed as well as the consequence to the employee, that is, movement to performance concern resolution, if the employee’s responsibilities to the plan are not met, (7) a section providing for the employee’s acknowledgment of receipt of the plan. One copy of this report is to be placed in the employee’s personnel file and the other given to the employee.
Performance Monitoring – Performance, unless otherwise provided for in an employment contract, is to be monitored through three venues: visitor assessments, peer assessments, and supervisor assessments.
Program Time Adherence – All programs are to begin and end at their scheduled times unless the group is running late or has changed the scheduled times. All efforts must be made to satisfy the groups whether they are on time or late.
Probationary Employment Termination: If the new hire’s supervisor concludes that the new employee cannot, even with reasonable accommodation, fulfill the requirements of the tasks the employee was hired to perform, or has health issues that might be aggravated by those tasks, then probationary employment termination is invoked and it shall be done so without prejudice to the employee’s right to draw unemployment insurance.
Probationary Status: The probationary status is the standing held by an employee who has accumulated less than 160 hours of work history with the Conservancy since being hired. The wage rate during the probationary period shall be the base rate.
Professional Payroll Preparation – Laurel Caverns shall retain the services of a professional payroll provider to assure that an adequate payroll record is available to both employees and interested government agencies.
Quitting – A two week notice is appreciated from anyone planning to quit. If an employee takes a leave of absence without written notice the lack of notice will be taken as quitting without notice.
Quitting During Training – Because employment at Laurel Caverns places newly hired individuals into an exciting and unfamiliar environment, occasionally, newly hired employees accept employment tentatively, some even as a matter of curiosity rather than as a commitment to employment, and then quit after being given the high adventure experience that comes with the familiarization process. This practice is understandable, but very unfair to the applicants not hired. Accordingly, the first three days of training will be paid only when matched by three days of service to the visitors of the Park.
Scheduled Times Adherence – All employees are expected to arrive at their scheduled times. A failure to do so will result in a PIP. If the PIP fails, the employee is to be dismissed only if no other employee has as many incidences of late arrival. Unusual circumstances forcing a late arrival are to be excused if a timely notification is made by phoning 724-438-6090, 724-438-3003, or 800-515-4150.
Tipping – No staffer is at any time to encourage tips, imply in any way that they are expected, or even mention them. Tipping interpretive staffers is not done at Federal and State Parks and Laurel Caverns operates within a tradition set by them.
Testing and Certification – All testing and certification requirements are to be followed as identified in one’s job description. Employees are to be paid their regular hourly wage while participating in any on premise test or certification procedure. However, no off premise testing or certification, unless specifically identified by management for employment retention, is to be paid for. Red Cross certification fees will be paid for by the Conservancy, however, any off premise hours spent acquiring this certification will not be reimbursed except with written arrangements from the Facilitator.
Visitor Needs – The Laurel Caverns Conservancy exists to serve the public; thus the Manager on duty has the task of seeing to it that the immediate service and accommodation needs of the on premise public are met. Visitor needs take priority over all other activities within the park and so requests for help by either the Facilitator or Day Manager are to be honored. There is no report, no construction project and no mowing job more important than a visitor who needs a caving interpreter, a guided tour, our assistance with a wheel chair, a clean restroom, or safe cave path. If any individual feels put upon by a particular visitor request the request is to be honored and then followed by a written statement of grievance to the Day Manager. The ignoring of any request from a Manager on duty which negatively impacts visitor experience will result in disciplinary action. Naturally, this policy is subject to the provision that equipment, tools, and chemicals not be hurriedly abandoned in a way that leaves behind a safety hazard.
To actualize the principle of accountability the following universal policies apply:
Announcements – A large bulletin board is to be maintained in the staff lounge. All staff related notices, work schedules and announcements are to be placed on this bulletin board.
Bibliographic Directory: All printed materials used in the day to day operation of this Conservancy are to be identified in this Policy Manual’s Programs Addendum with their proper titles underlined. This manual shall conclude with a bibliographic directory listing the titles of all forms, workbooks, articles, manuals, certificates and other such materials used by the Conservancy.
Breaks – Lunch breaks are to last no more than thirty minutes and to be paid for all employees because visitor demands can be so erratic and tour schedules so unpredictable that it is impossible to provide precise lunch times. Further, a lunch can be interrupted by an unusual visitor demand, such as the arrival of a surprise group. The price of the paid lunch time is the expectation that every employee is willing to serve visitor demand as it arises and catch lunch on a “catch-as-catch-can” basis. The same is true for other breaks during the day. If any employee finds himself or herself deprived of, on average, a five minute personal break for each hour worked and a total of thirty minutes for lunch, then an appeal should immediately be made to the Day Manager.
Days Off – Days off are to be selected by each employee, as desired, through regular updates to a form found in a three ring notebook, called the Schedule Workbook, kept by the desk staff at the service counter and available to every employee upon request. This freedom can be lost to abuse. Certain days of the year are unusually heavy. Employees tend to form friendships and like to go to certain events as a group. Sometimes, an event, such as a wedding everyone wants to attend, collides with a day when the entire staff is needed. Unfortunately most social events occur on Saturdays which is precisely the day Laurel Caverns is busiest. There is a real sense in which ultimately, Laurel Caverns belongs to its employees. Self-regulation and sensitivity to the needs of the Conservancy will serve to keep the freedom every Laurel Caverns employee has to determine his or her days off.
Mileage: The mileage compensation rate shall be set at fifty cents per mile. Employees shall be eligible for mileage compensation for all mileage conducted on behalf of Laurel Caverns with a personally owned vehicle providing that: the trip itself is approved by an officer, the individual is registered with and approved by the Laurel Caverns’ liability insurer, the individual does not report mileage associated with the individual’s direct route to and from work, and the individual files a documented travel report on a form called the Laurel Caverns Mileage Report Form. Mileage shall be paid apart from wages since it is not subject to payroll taxes.
Scheduling – All scheduling is to be done by the Director of Programs. In the event of unforeseen staffing needs the Day Manager may authorize work assignments to fill visitor service’s needs. Accordingly, a complete and updated employee call list shall be maintained at the front desk. No one is to work hours not approved by one of these two managers and no one shall be paid for self-assigned non-emergency work not approved by management.
Staff Lounge – A staff lounge, having a refrigerator, micro-wave oven, tables and sink shall be provided to all employees and this lounge shall be kept smoke free.
Tools – Laurel Caverns is to provide the necessary tools and equipment needed for every task. This equipment is neither to be used for personal use nor removed from the Laurel Caverns property unless approved by management.
Vacations – Vacation schedules, like days available, are left up to the employees in the hopes that there will always be enough individuals available to meet visitor service demands. However, when large numbers of staff all take off at the same time and shortfalls occur, the response of management is to increase the size of the employee base, degrading average pay incomes. To keep the size of the employee base down it is suggested that employees attempt as much as possible to self-regulate their days off.
Chain of Decision – Employees shall express concerns beginning with their immediate supervisor. If an employee wishes to appeal a decision by a supervisor then the employee shall, by arrangement of the supervisor with his or her own supervisor, set up a meeting for the higher supervisor to hear the advice or concern.
Deferred Payments – Except for regional public schools on field trips, no deferred payment arrangement (billing) shall be granted to visiting organization without clearance by the Director of Marketing and Reservations.
Documents and Publications – The Facilitator shall maintain a current and complete set of every document needed for or used by this Conservancy to conduct its programs and administer its internal policies.
Employee Schedule Period – Employee schedule periods shall be weekly and begin on Monday morning and conclude on Sunday evening. Schedules are to be released ten days (the Friday of the prior week) prior to the first day of an employee schedule period. Changes may take place due to changes in reservations.
Free Passes – No employee is to be charged for participating in any Laurel Caverns program while off duty. Additionally, each season, after eighty hours of employment, every employee will receive four free passes to Kavernputt and four free passes for the family guided tour. However, beyond this, no employee is to make a family member or friend a free “guest” of the Conservancy even though it is realized that employees are often pressured by friends and relatives to do so. The purpose of this rule is to allow you to draw the line. Regrettably, because of abuses by a few in the past, we must apply the zero tolerance principle to this rule. Distribution of the passes is to be handled by the Director of Programs.
Lockers – Every employee shall be entitled to a locker capable of being locked. Each employee shall supply his or her lock. Coin operated lockers shall be made available to the public at a reasonable cost.
Lost Checks – Every employee is responsible for his or her paycheck and the payroll information attached. Paychecks which must be rewritten will have $38.00 deducted to cover the bank’s stop-payment fee on the original check.
Operating Hours – The published and operating hours for Laurel Caverns shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. However, the 4:30 time is never to be the time of the last tour unless no one enters after 4:30. The location of the caverns requires the earlier posted time so that in fairness to those who get lost or misjudge the driving distance will not be deprived a tour over a matter of merely being a few minutes late. Any desk staffer turning away a visitor before 5:oo p.m. for the traditional tour will be removed as a visitor services staffer.
Parties – No after-hours parties are to be held in the Laurel Caverns property, except those held in the absence of alcohol and controlled substances, and authorized by the Executive Director.
Personal Use of Conservancy Assets – No one is to remove any asset of the Conservancy from the property without permission from management. No one is to divert the use of an asset of the Conservancy to one’s personal use, no matter how noble the use, e.g. using a copier to make copies of a program for one’s church.
Phone Use – No one is to spend one’s time talking on a Laurel Caverns phone with one’s friends or relatives while on company time. Incoming personal calls on any Laurel Caverns phone are to be limited to emergency calls only.
Purchasing – Purchases are to be made only from suppliers approved by the Executive Director and any purchase exceeding $100 must have prior approval. No individual is to make purchases on behalf of the Conservancy except where provided for by a job description.
Review: These policies shall be reviewed once every three years by legal counsel familiar with employment law to both assure compliance and adequacy with respect to federal, state and local laws and annually by the officers to assure adequacy with respect to the realities of Laurel Caverns Conservancy operations.
Right to an Eight Hour Workday – The nature of serving group tours and programs often means that public demand may only require four hours from an employee. However, any employee called to be present for work on a given day shall be offered a minimum of eight hours of employment if desired and if the employee puts forth a good faith effort to fill his or her hours beyond visitor demand. Conversely, if visitor demand, or the possibility of visitor demand, is not present then the employee, if he or she chooses, is free to waive the right to the eight hour day.
Suggestion Box – A locked suggestion box is to be placed and maintained near the service counter. Management is interested in ways in which a visitor’s experience to the park can be enhanced, safety and human dignity maintained, and general corrections, additions or deletions needed for this policy manual evaluated. Also, instances where the policies of the Conservancy have been ignored are of special interest. Suggestions need not be signed to receive full attention.