Employment Policies

Laurel Caverns Conservancy

Mission Statement of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy

It is the mission of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy to preserve and protect the Laurel Caverns property from commercial development and to utilize it instead for educational purposes by providing low cost learning services, with an emphasis on geology and environmentalism, to the general public, schools, summer camps, scouting groups and other such organizations while assuring them a safe and attractive environment in which to observe and study the natural qualities of this privately preserved park.

Employment Policies of Laurel Caverns Conservancy

Because Laurel Caverns has a highly diverse visitation, it is important to the mission and values of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy that its staff be as inclusive as possible.  Women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply for employment at Laurel Caverns.  Please call 724-438-3003 for an application.

Our hiring practices align with the human dignity pledge every employee must sign.  It reads: I pledge to uphold the dignity of every human being I encounter, through my association with this organization, in the context of my work environment, regardless of place or circumstance.  I pledge to never disparage or denigrate another individual, most especially, on the basis of race, religion, gender, physical ability, physical appearance, intellect, age, education, sexual orientation or place of origin.  I further pledge to never engage in any conduct which will create unnecessary barriers to another’s pursuit of the fulfillment of their day, create unnecessary discomfort, or detract in any way from the measure of respect which I would have from others

The Objectives Sought by the Policies of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy

  1. To enhance the ability of the Conservancy to fulfill its mission
  2. To assure an environment of human dignity within the workplace
  3. To assure the safety of the Conservancy’s staff, guests and product users
  4. To enhance the working environment by grounding policies and procedures in written rules
  5. To assure that the Conservancy is in compliance with all federal, state and local laws
  6. To enhance employment stability and the quality of service to the public by establishing a universal ground for assessment procedures
  7. To secure the financial stability of the Conservancy while maintaining the affordability of its services to the public by establishing a universal ground for operating procedures so that every employee may know how to avoid waste while effectively meeting his or her role in the fulfillment of the Conservancy’s mission.

The Eight Principles of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy

All Laurel Caverns Conservancy policies flow from a fundamental set of 10 principles that place certain responsibilities upon the Conservancy, its management and its employees with respect to their roles in fulfilling the Conservancy’s Mission Statement. The Eight Principles of the Conservancy frame its universal policies and the decision-making processes used to promote the Conservancy’s mission of education and preservation.

  • Integrity

  • Sensitivity

  • Security

  • Matheia (learning)

  • Conservation

  • Propriety

  • Professionalism

  • Accountability

Each of these principles shall be defined in terms of its impact on the expectations of the public, the employees of the Conservancy and the Conservancy itself.

  1. Integrity – Integrity is the integration of lawfulness, honesty, honor, and fairness into a single willingness to always do what should be done through a commitment to always: obey the law, be truthful, be faithful to one’s pledges, and treat others with dignity and fairness. All programs, initiatives, and policies employed by the Conservancy must accord with federal, state, and local laws. All employee conduct must be within the law.  All programs employed by the Conservancy must honor their advertised commitments to the public, and all persons within the organization must be truthful and judicious in their dealings with the public and with each other.
  2. Sensitivity – All programs and persons employed by the Conservancy must be committed, at least with respect to the workplace, to the advancement of human dignity, graciousness, and a willingness to not mistreat or unnecessarily harm sentient beings. In addition, the Conservancy’s Human Dignity Pledge is to be rigorously followed.
  3. Security – All programs and persons employed by the Conservancy must be committed to a meaningful concern for workplace threats to health, safety and property, immediately addressing these threats or reporting them as fits the occasion.
  4. Matheia – Matheia is to learning what integrity is to lawfulness, honesty, honor and fairness. It is a self-commitment to integrate all learning into a coherent worldview; and, as such, it is the principle of learning, learning as a lifetime process. It is learning as something one should do as a matter of self-excellence.  The Laurel Caverns Conservancy is dedicated to the use of the Laurel Caverns property for purposes of learning, as opposed to recreation and entertainment.
  5. Conservation – All programs, trustees, officers, and persons employed by the Conservancy must be committed to a meaningful concern for the ecocentric preservation of Laurel Caverns and the land above it.
  6. Propriety – The Laurel Caverns property and its buildings must be clean and well maintained. All programs and employees of the Conservancy must follow the Conservancy’s standards for behavior, decorum, dress, and timeliness and, in turn, these standards must align with the Conservancy’s other seven principles.
  7. Professionalism – Any program or person assigned to a task must be properly qualified to perform that task and willing to work to provide it with its expected outcome. Attendant to this principle is the need for certification, preparedness, timeliness, decorum, proficiency, efficiency, and accountability. Any person assigned to a particular task must be willing to follow the adopted standards and accepted operating procedures or protocols belonging to that task.
  8. Accountability – All persons employed by the Conservancy must be able to effectively meet their responsibilities to each other and the public. Cooperativeness, when appropriate, is an important contributor to achievement. All programs and persons employed by the Conservancy must be committed to its rules regarding the tracking and reporting of materials, notification of supply shortages, record keeping, asset management, funds accounting, etc.  This also includes notification of problems, concerns, hazards, and especially visitor suggestions and requests.

Universal Policies of the 8 Principles

1. Integrity

To actualize the principle of integrity the following universal policies apply:

Accessibility – The accessibility policy of the Conservancy shall be ADA compliant and stated in a publicly posted document called the Laurel Caverns Accessibility Policy.  Every public restroom must have at least one stall which meets the Federal requirements for handicapped accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Acceptance:  The acceptance of these policies, and the duties and responsibilities which they frame, is necessary for employment in the operations of the Conservancy and for the opportunity to do business with the Conservancy, either as a contractor or as a customer.  No person refusing to agree to these policies and procedures may be employed by Laurel Caverns.  However, any policy not in compliance with the law shall be considered severable from acceptance.

Amendments: Any change to these policies must be given to every employee in writing. 

Approval: The structure and identification of all policies, duties and responsibilities of the Conservancy must be approved by its officers.

Background Checks – Background checks of employees will be conducted as required by law.

Compliance:  These policies shall be fully compliant with all Federal, state and local laws.  If any provision in this document is found to be, either upon advice from legal counsel or upon notice from any duly constituted form of government, in violation of any regulation, statute, or finding of court, it shall be considered moot and the governing body of this Conservancy is to be hereby directed to draft a revision fully compliant with all Federal, state and local laws.

Contract – Only the officers of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy are authorized to make a contract with employees or outside parties.

Drug Use / Possession – No drugs prohibited by law are to be brought onto Laurel Caverns property.

Due Process: – The written policies and procedures of the Conservancy shall be the ground for all hiring, mentoring, and discharge.  All concerns and appeals must be made in writing.  The steps within the organization’s performance improvement plan (PIP) process must be followed.  If a dispute cannot be settled through a PIP, the Conservancy will pay the cost of hiring a mutually agreed upon attorney whose finding will be binding upon both parties.

Employment Contract – Any contractual arrangement between the Conservancy with respect to duration of employment, assigned responsibilities, and the like is subject to these policies and all relevant employment laws.  In the absence of such a contract, the Policies and Procedures of the Laurel Caverns Conservancy shall serve as the employment contract.

Equal Opportunity – All policies relating to employment retention and advancement within the workplace shall be written in such a way as to promote equal opportunity by permitting decisions in this area to be made only on the basis of the ten principles: integrity, sensitivity, cautiousness, propriety, timeliness, proficiency, professionalism, effectiveness, and accountability

Grievance Procedures – Grievance procedures are simply the steps one takes to seek a fair resolution to a complaint or concern.  A complaint or concern is to first be submitted, in writing, to one’s immediate supervisor or director.  If the concern or complaint is still not resolved it may be appealed to the officers of the Conservancy.  If this cannot resolve the problem the employee and management are to mutually agree upon a local attorney as a fair third party arbitrator, one not currently representing either the Conservancy or the employee, to review the grievance.   In such a case, the Conservancy agrees to pay all legal fees involved and the decisions and remedies of the third party arbitrator, if lawful, shall be binding upon both parties.

Posters – All Federal and State posters and legal notices required by law are to be permanently and prominently displayed on or by the bulletin board in the staff lounge.  Minimally the following posters are to be displayed – OSHA Notification, Equal Employment Notification Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law notice.  Any observation that a particular poster is missing should be reported to the Facilitator.

Secure Wage Rate – No employee may suffer a cut in current hourly pay rate due to a change in assignments.

Timely Payment – Laurel Caverns staffers are paid on a biweekly schedule. The pay period begins on Monday and ends on the Sunday of the following week. The hours are to be reported to the professional payroll provider no later than the first day the payroll provider is open following the end of a payroll period.  Paychecks are to be made available at the N. E. Cale Visitors’ Center upon receipt from the payroll provider or mailed to the employee during the closed season.

Time Records – Hourly earnings shall be based on time cards as electronically stamped.   No hours will be paid, not electronically reported, except for work done off the property.  Payment for those times shall be based upon the completion of a written time report which shall show the date, starting and completion times, and activity involved.

Training – Training is not something done only immediately following hiring but is an ongoing process of learning and performance improvement.  Therefore, testing, certification, mentoring, performance assessments and performance improvements are all to be considered as part of an on-going cycle.

Unwritten Policies:  Because it is humanly impossible for the framers of these policies to think of every possible situation which might arise, and because individuals are by nature inclined to assume policies and procedures in the absence of written guidelines, any behavior, activity or initiative not specifically permitted by either this Conservancy’s by-laws, policies or procedures is to be regarded as prohibited under the zero tolerance provisions of this Conservancy.  Especially sensitive areas are: those which are criminal in nature; those intended to create fear in another person, those which lead to someone’s embarrassment, pain, or insult; those which are deliberately intended to create unnecessary work for another; and those which involve the destruction of property.

Zero-Tolerance – The Conservancy shall have a zero-tolerance policy for all acts of an unlawful nature as well as any act that promotes discrimination, bullying, intolerance or any blatant disregard for safety to guests, employees or the continued existence of the Conservancy.  The General Manager shall be the deciding voice as to zero-tolerance policy.  Offenses of the zero-tolerance policy shall result in immediate dismissal.  If a zero-tolerance discharge is disputed, the Conservancy will pay the cost of hiring a mutually agreed upon attorney whose finding will be binding upon both parties.

2. Sensitivity         

To actualize the principle of Sensitivity the following universal policies apply: 

Community Representation – The Conservancy shall act affirmatively in its employment advertising and hiring decisions with respect to women and minorities with the goal that the diversity in Fayette County is reflected in its employee roster.

Bullying – Intimidation and practical jokes are unacceptable in the workplace.  Statements of a private nature, personal criticisms, caricatures, or other embarrassing material naming a particular individual are not to be publicly placed anywhere on the property.  All posters and public notices must be approved by management before being posted anywhere on the property.  Off-premise bullying even through on-line services by one employee against another, to the degree they are work-related, will be treated as if done at the workplace.

Dating – No employee is to ask another employee for a date and no employee is to accept a date offered by another employee.  All employees are hereby warned that such requests, if unwanted and still persistent, can lead to an accusation of sexual harassment and discharge.  Further, couple break-ups are today’s primary source of hostile work environment claims.  The acceptance of a social arrangement by one employee with another shall be regarded by the Conservancy as the waiving of any right by either party to file a sexual harassment or hostile work environment claim based upon the fruits of that acceptance.

Defamation – Openly critical statements, especially in front of visitors, defaming the character or abilities of a fellow employee or even a visitor will not be tolerated.  Minimally, a Performance Concern Notice shall be given.  If the behavior occurs a second time a Confidential Performance Concern Resolution will be drafted.

Equal Rights – A right granted to one employee is considered granted to all employees except where discrimination is required by law, e.g. affirmative action; where special privileges are granted on the basis of criteria that are potentially available to every employee, e.g. time served in the Conservancy; where the right is tied to a specific set of responsibilities within a job description; or where factors common to every human being are involved, e.g. that no person under the age of 18 be hired for employment.

Human Dignity – Every employee must have in his or her employment file a signed copy the following human dignity pledge (© David Cale 1998) – I pledge to uphold the dignity of every human being I encounter, through my association with this organization, in the context of my work environment, regardless of place or circumstance.  I pledge to never disparage or denigrate another individual, most especially, on the basis of race, religion, gender, physical ability, physical appearance, intellect, age, education, sexual orientation or place of origin.  I further pledge to never engage in any conduct which will create unnecessary barriers to another’s pursuit of the fulfillment of their day, create unnecessary discomfort, or detract in any way from the measure of respect which I would have from others.

Hostility Free Work Environment – It is a fundamental policy of Laurel Caverns that its employees and visitors shall not be subject to either harassment or hostile behavior.  All instances of such behavior are to be reported to the appropriate supervisor.

Non-Discrimination –  Laurel Caverns is committed to social justice. We encourage those in protected classes to apply for employment and do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, color or national origin.  No policy, written or unwritten, shall be permitted which discriminates against any individual on the basis of  race, gender, religion, marital status, physical ability, national origin or any other factor which comes to an individual beyond the control of their will, except where law promotes such discrimination as, for example, in sales to minors.

Offensive Pictures, Publications, Posters, Postings, and Recordings – No employee is to bring to the property images, publications, posters, recordings or any other material which has, in any other place, offended someone on the basis of anything covered in the human dignity pledge.  The introduction of such material in any form where they can be seen or heard by a visitor or fellow employee shall initiate a PIP.  If the employee continues to introduce such material he or she shall be discharged.

Parking – The four parking places nearest the Visitors’ Center shall be set aside and marked as handicapped parking. If an employee requires handicapped parking a fifth place shall be established. Otherwise, employees of the Conservancy may only park on the east side of the narrow portion of the lower paved parking lot. A white rock marks the limit of employee parking. If this is full the upper lot must be used.

Policy Understanding – Any employee who has difficulty following the wording of this policy manual should request the opportunity to have it reviewed for them by a supervisor.

Privacy – No policy may be made which permits the dissemination of personal information beyond the purposes for which it was provided.  Personnel files are to be kept off premise to insure privacy.  Additionally, no employee shall:

  1. Enter the changing room or restroom of the opposite sex. Neither shall they create viewing apertures into any public or private changing room or restroom.
  2. Listen in on phone calls.
  3. Unnecessarily invade another’s work area such as their desk.
  4. Open another’s mail.
  5. Open another’s locker.
  6. Enter, without permission, another’s vehicle or other personal materials.
  7. Either request or offer access to an employee personnel file except for reasons of government, discipline, an accreditation benefiting the employee, or remuneration. All access must pass through approval of the manager. A voluntary disclosure of one’s own wage rate or any other employee related contractual information shall not be construed as privacy misconduct and is not prohibited.

Sexual Harassment – Sexual harassment will not be tolerated.  Where the harassment arises from a guest the employee is to leave the guest, if possible, and report the incident to the Manager on duty who shall, upon such a report, be obligated by this policy manual to provide the guest with another service provider.  If the Manager on duty feels the employee is over-reacting he or she must still make the substitution and deal with a deeper investigation into the employee’s claims at a later time.  Where the harassment arises from a fellow member of the Conservancy, the harassed employee is to address the concern with the offending individual using the hostile work environment protocols.  No employee shall in any way suffer any loss of wages or change in status with the Conservancy from a sexual harassment report except, of course, in cases of false report.

Wildlife – No one is to hunt, chase or search for any natural creature as a matter of having something to do while on duty.  No one is to handle any form of wildlife with bare hands.  All wildlife is to be treated compassionately.  All hunting on the property is to be done outside posted safety zones and in full compliance with the rules of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

3. Security  

To actualize the principle of Security the following universal policies apply:

Alcoholic Beverages – No alcoholic beverages are to be consumed on Laurel Caverns property.

Background Checks – Act 114 of 2006 requires that ALL prospective employees, of organizations working directly with public and private schools, potentially having direct contact with students undergo background checks.  All applicants are required by law to submit three background checks:

  1. State Police Criminal History Record (for more info see Act 34 Background Checks)
  2. Dept. of Public Welfare Child Abuse Report (for more info see Act 151Child Abuse Checks
  3. Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) – FBI Report

Bureau of Deep Mine Safety ComplianceLaurel Caverns is inspected twice a year by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety. The advice and direction of this bureau is a great resource for the promotion of safety. Full cooperation is to be given the inspector and all questions are to be answered honestly. All directives from the inspector are to be given priority attention and fully carried out.

Fire ExtinguishersFire extinguishers are to be wall mounted and prominently displayed in the Visitor’ Center at distances no greater than fifty feet apart. All extinguishers are to be professionally inspected annually and any problems or defects noted in this equipment between inspections should be reported immediately to management. Oversight of the fire extinguishers belongs to the Director of Security.

Aggravation of a Current Health Issue – It is impossible for an employer to know the full medical state of an employee. Laurel Caverns is a natural area whose activities can be physically challenging.  The Conservancy does not want to assign any employee to any task which could in any way aggravate a current medical problem.  Any employee having a physical condition he or she believes can be aggravated by his or her job is to communicate the problem, preferably in writing, to the manager.  The issue will be handled within the parameters of the law.

Cameras – Cameras are to be put in place where practical for purposes of security, especially with respect to the parking lot and service counters.

Failure to Report – An employee’s knowledge of an on-going violation of a security policy, especially one related to safety, coupled with a failure to report to the proper supervisor will result in a PIP.

Hunting – Because Laurel Caverns invites children to participate in field studies it shall be the policy of this Conservancy that no hunting shall take place on the property at any time the Park is open and the Director of Maintenance and Security shall see that the property is posted, in conformity to law, to ensure the enforceability of this policy.  A complete posting of the property is to be completed each year by September 15th with the signs set at least nine feet from the ground.  Hunting may be permitted outside the legal safety zones of the property during deer season for those days during which the park is closed to the public.  Signs at the entrance to the property and at the gate shall be posted each year stating the deer season rules and such rules shall be communicated to the appropriate state and local officials.

Illiteracy – It shall be the policy of Laurel Caverns that every employee be literate in order to hold any position or duty where either the safety of the public or staff might be compromised by an employee’s inability to read.  If this policy is challenged by any applicant, it shall then be the policy of Laurel Caverns to immediately turn the issue over to a mutually agreed upon third party, knowledgeable in the law whose fees shall be paid by Laurel Caverns, for a binding decision on whether the applicant’s limitation poses a threat to the right of employees and the public to a safe environment.

Injury and Illness – All Laurel Caverns employees are covered by a worker’s compensation policy which serves to protect employees from income loss due to work related injuries and illnesses.  All employees are to annually complete a form called – Injury, Illness and Accommodation Requirements Report.  This report shall have the following provisions – (1) a section providing for times and persons involved, (2) a section stating the nature of the physical demands associated with employment at Laurel Caverns, (3) a section inviting the employee to report any known medical conditions which might be aggravated by these physical demands, (4) a section requiring a physician’s response as to what the Conservancy can do to accommodate the employee so that the Laurel Caverns work environment will not aggravate either the employee’s known physical condition or other medical problem discovered by the physician and (5) a signature section for the employee and the physician.

Injury and Illness Report – All injuries, illness or concerns with respect to an aggravation of a prior injury or illness are to result in an immediate cessation of activity and be reported to the Day Manager or general manager at the earliest opportunity to do so.  At that time a new Injury, Illness and Accommodation Requirements Report shall be completed and a determination, mutually agreed upon by both the involved manager and the employee, shall be made as to whether the employee needs professional medical attention.  In cases where the need for such attention is apparent the earliest possible medical help is to be obtained and the paper work held to a more reasonable time.  If the need for immediate medical attention seems ambiguous, all are to err on the side of caution and obtain the earliest possible medical attention.  The report of any injury or illness reported as a work related injury or illness but which occurs outside the Laurel Caverns work environment shall be regarded as insurance fraud and will result in discharge proceedings.

Safety Concerns – All safety concerns are to be reported immediately to the Day Manager.  If an on-going safety concern is not addressed within a reasonable time following an oral report the report shall be put in writing and sent to the President of the Laurel Conservancy with the steps believed needed for resolution.  If it is still not addressed to the satisfaction of the reporter, then the steps outlined in the OSHA poster in the staff lounge should be followed.  No employee, following these procedures, is to be penalized in any way for reporting a safety violation.

Smoke Detectors – Smoke detectors are to be installed in every storage area having more than 50 square feet and in all classrooms, sales areas and offices of the Visitors’ Center.  Batteries are to be replaced and the detectors inspected every March, July and November.  Any problems or defects noted in this equipment between inspections should be reported immediately to management.  Oversight of the smoke detectors belongs to the Security Manager.

Smoking – The Norman E. Cale Visitors’ Center is to be a smoke free area.

Terroristic Threats – A terroristic threat is a communication which conveys to an individual intent by the offender to do harm to either his or her body or property.  Where the communication arises from a guest the employee is to leave the offending guest, if possible, and report the threat to the Manager on duty.  The Day Manager shall, upon such a report, be obligated by this policy to politely ask the guest to leave the park.  If it is judged the guest poses a threat which cannot be or is not being handled by a polite request then the state police are to be called.  If the threat is from an employee the Manager on duty is to make that decision which leads to the safest possible outcome for all concerned.

Under-the-influence – No one is to report to work in that state called by law “under the influence” in that they might pose a safety threat to themselves or others.  No one judged to be in this state should be permitted to leave the property and the Conservancy shall pay for any transportation cost needed to get the employee home safely.  The Day Manager’s prima facie judgment in deciding the issue will be backed by the Conservancy.  Three such appearances within a sixty day period will require a letter from a physician, or social services agency advising the Conservancy as to how to proceed so that the employee’s best interest and the safety of our guests are both preserved.

Weapons – No lethal weapons are to be introduced to the Laurel Caverns property except under conditions approved by management.  Depending upon severity, a violation of this policy could result in immediate discharge.

4. Matheia (Learning)      

To actualize the principle of matheia (learning) the following universal policies apply:

Programs and Tours Format – All tours and programs are to be designed so as to achieve well defined learning objectives, combining activity with learning in interesting “hands on” way.

Interpretive Employees – All interpretive staffers and caving guides are to be fully knowledgeable in the history, geology, and ecology of the Laurel Caverns property and to see their primary role as that of a teacher.

Internships – All student employment shall be treated as internships to provide these employees with an enhanced learning experience which can serve their career growth.

Gift shop items – To the maximum extent possible, gift shop items are to be educationally oriented.

5. Conservation    

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.

6. Propriety      

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.

7. Professionalism

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Integrity: Every program conducted by the Conservancy is to be in compliance with the mission and eight principles of the Conservancy.
  2. 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.
  3. Timeliness: All programs and tours are to start on time.
  4. Decorum: Every program and tour is to be led by someone whose appearance and manner is marked by friendliness, respect, and professional conduct.
  5. 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.
  6. Efficiency: The waste of time and materials is to be avoided.
  7. Cooperativeness: A team spirit, emotional stability, and a sense of sharing are to be a hallmark of the organizational culture of Laurel Caverns.
  8. 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.

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.

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.

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.

8. Accountability

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.

Please see the homepage for the days open for this season.  We are open from mid-April through the last Sunday in October.  The traditional Tour and Modified Traditional Tour are offered every day, without exception.  We are even open on holidays.  When the first ticket for the “next tour” is sold a twenty minute countdown is started.  With this rule, no one need wait more than twenty minutes for the one hour tour.  The visitors’ center opens every day at 9:00 AM.  The last tour of the day enters at 4:30 PM.