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University State of Emergency: Human Resources Implications of Pandemic Influenza

Effective Date: October 2009
Last Update: October 2009
Responsible University Officer:
  • Vice President for Human Resources
Policy Owner:
  • Human Resources Chief of Staff
Policy Contact:

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The president or designate, in accordance with the University Emergency Operations Plan, may determine circumstances that would necessitate the declaration of a University State of Emergency, or change in standard operations, either to limit exposure through “social distancing,” or as a result of extremely high rates of absenteeism, related to a pandemic influenza. This declaration of a State of Emergency could cover any or all of the campuses of the University. This policy and associated procedures address the human resources implications of a declared State of Emergency related to pandemic influenza. There may also be a recovery period following a State of Emergency, as declared by the president or designee, in which portions of this policy would remain in effect.

The University will use information provided by local, state, and federal agencies and experts in making decisions related to the preparation, response, and recovery from a pandemic influenza.

Supervisors are responsible for communicating their department, campus, college, or administrative unit operational continuity plans, as well as the University Emergency Operations Plan, to their employees.


  • University Relations staff and other designated University officials will communicate broadly and repetitively throughout any emergency situation.
  • University departments will be as flexible as possible to enable all faculty, staff and students to work, including the opportunity to work remotely and with flexible schedules, etc.
  • Unless directed otherwise, individuals who are able to work are expected to report for work.
  • Faculty, staff, and student employees may be required to take on different assignments and support the University in whatever capacity is needed.
  • Depending on availability of personnel, training may or may not be available.
  • No employees will be asked to perform work that would endanger their health or safety.
  • The Office of Human Resources is responsible for communicating guidelines and responding to questions related to the prevention and handling of exposure in the workplace. The guidelines will be developed in accordance with the advice of state and federal public health authorities, and will be updated as the situation evolves.
  • Employees may be directed not to report to the workplace in order to minimize the spread of the disease. If so directed, employees should not to report to the workplace and should follow procedures outlined by their departments or unit for maintaining communication and direction about assignments.


  • Only Mission Critical employees should report for work. Mission Critical employees may be directed to work remotely, but must report as instructed.
  • Back up and non-Mission Critical employees should not report to the workplace. Such employees must maintain regular contact with their supervisors as instructed, and may be asked to perform duties remotely.
  • Pay and health care benefits for all employees will continue throughout a University State of Emergency as if the employees were working. Adjustments to compensation and to leave balances may be made following the University State of Emergency as required by circumstances. Health care benefits will not be discontinued during a University State of Emergency (for example, due to lack of paid status or an employee’s inability to provide the employee portion of the cost).
  • Supervisors are responsible for tracking the status of their employees throughout the crisis in order to make the proper adjustments to leave balances, if necessary, after the University State of Emergency has ended and all employees return to work as usual.
Mission-Critical, Back-Up, and Non-Mission-Critical Positions

Any position may be designated as Mission-Critical at any point during a University State of Emergency, even if not designated Mission-Critical or back-up to a Mission-Critical position prior to the University State of Emergency, depending on the type of emergency or the phase of a pandemic.

Mission-Critical Positions

Departments/units are responsible for identifying Mission-Critical positions. Departments are also responsible for identifying individuals who may be in back-up positions to those designated as Mission Critical.  In addition, central administration, through the senior administrator, may designate certain positions as Mission-Critical. The senior administrator for a campus, college, or administrative unit has the authority and responsibility to determine which employees are designated as Mission-Critical for particular types of emergency, and must inform such employees in writing.

Mission-Critical employees are expected to report to work during a University State of Emergency unless specifically directed by their department not to report, or if directed by civil emergency or medical authorities not to report for health and safety reasons.

Back-Up Positions

Employees in positions designated as back-up to Mission-Critical positions whose designation changed to Mission-Critical during a University State of Emergency must report to work upon notification of this changed designation. Back-up employees must contact their departments for instructions during a University State of Emergency.

Non-Mission-Critical Positions

Positions not designated as Mission-Critical or back-up to Mission-Critical positions are considered to be Non- Mission-Critical during a University State of Emergency. Employees in Non-Mission-Critical positions should not report to campus during a University State of Emergency. Employees in Non-Mission Critical positions who can work from home or another location may do so only with prior approval from their department.

Employees in positions not designated as Mission-Critical may expect their department to attempt to contact them, and should attempt to contact their department during a University State of Emergency, according to the department’s usual call-in procedures.

Departments will determine if there is meaningful work for Non-Mission-Critical employees, what acceptable alternative work arrangements will be, and must give prior approval to those who wish to work from home or another location during a University State of Emergency. To the extent possible, such arrangements should be agreed upon in advance of any University State of Emergency. Refer to Appendix A: Position Designation and Responsibilities for further explanation including communication to employees with expectations.

Paid and Unpaid Leave during a University State of Emergency

During a University State of Emergency, due to a lack of adequate numbers of payroll personnel, the University will continue to provide pay and benefits to all employees as if they were working their normal work schedules. This status will continue until there are adequate payroll personnel able to work, at which time adjustments will be made to reflect usage of various leave time (e.g. sick leave, vacation, leave without pay). In addition to regular leave times, the University will provide up to two weeks of administrative leave to assist employees during a University State of Emergency. Actual amounts of such leave will be declared upon assessment following the return to normal conditions. Such assessment will include an analysis of fiscal constraints.

Departments are responsible for tracking hours worked and hours assigned to various leaves throughout the University State of Emergency. These will be utilized to adjust payroll records following the crisis. Employees will be required to report, as instructed, on their attendance status throughout the University State of Emergency.

Other Human Resource Issues during a University State of Emergency

Refer to Appendix B: Other Human Resource Issues during a University State of Emergency for information regarding other human resource issues (working outside a classification and home campus/college/administrative unit, paychecks, grant-funded employees, union-represented staff, compensatory time off, probationary periods, recruitment and selection, timekeeping, and other).


The president will determine whether policy provisions that apply to University employees prior to and during a University State of Emergency will remain in effect during the recovery period following a University State of Emergency and will communicate broadly those provisions to the University community in a timely manner.


The University recognizes the need to prepare for the management of unexpected catastrophic events that may have an adverse affect on the day-to-day operations of the University, including the outbreak of pandemic influenza. The policy provides information to leaders, managers, and employees related to human resource practices in the event of a declared University State of Emergency related to pandemic influenza. The University is committed to maintaining the health and well being of its work force during periods of emergency, such as pandemic influenza. The ongoing delivery of routine compensation and benefits is a priority. The University will undertake measures to avoid the interruption of key benefits, such as health care coverage, for its employees during a period of emergency related to pandemic influenza.


There are no procedures associated with this policy.


There are no forms associated with this policy.



There is no FAQ associated with this policy.


General Information or Procedural Assistance
  • Primary: Responsible administrator/supervisor
  • Secondary: Local campus, college, or administrative unit HR administrator
  • Other (as needed): Office of Human Resources specialist or consultant
Document Processing
  • HRMS Key Contact
  • Office of Human Resources Call Center


Campus, College, or Administrative Unit
The large unit that directly reports to a chancellor, dean, vice president, or a senior vice president.
The organizational group with which an employee is identified; a department or division within a college or an administrative unit.
Emergency Closing
Covers one to two day closures due to poor weather conditions such as snow days, or partial or full day closures due to utility failures or natural disaster. An emergency closing has neither the catastrophic effect nor the duration of impact on the University community of a University State of Emergency. Emergency closings and University State of Emergencies are identified as such when they are declared.
Faculty, staff and student employee. Graduate assistants are also included in this category.
Refers to positions responsible for the health and safety of the University community and the operational continuity throughout the University State of Emergency.
Mission-Critical Employees
An employee who has been designated as vital to the operations of the University, whose presence is required regardless of the existence of an emergency condition, and whose absence from duty could endanger the safety and well-being of the campus population and/or physical plant. Employees may be designated as Mission-Critical on a situational basis, e.g., in the event of a public health crisis. Those employees deemed "Mission-Critical employees" will be notified of such designation and expected to work. Mission-Critical employee, under this policy, is not the same definition as an "essential employee" used in the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA).
Report for Work
Refers to time spent engaging in approved University work activities from any approved location.
Student Employee
Non-exempt graduate and professional students, and all undergraduate students who work for the University. Graduate assistants are not included as student employees in this policy.
University State of Emergency
A University State of Emergency is in effect when the University president, or delegate, declares such a state under the guidelines set forth in the University Emergency Operations Plan. The University State of Emergency may be Twin Cities or system campus specific, restricted to particular areas of any campus, or may be campus or University-wide, depending on the circumstances at the time. During a University State of Emergency, special procedures will guide the utilization of paid and unpaid leave time in order to continue compensation and benefits throughout the period of emergency.


President Responsibilities
  • Determines the University's appropriate course of action in managing high rates of absenteeism due to a widespread outbreak of pandemic influenza.
  • Declares a University State of Emergency when appropriate.
Executive Management Team Responsibilities
  • Communicates regularly and repetitively to the campus and neighboring communities about the emergency status.
  • Directs people to the Emergency Operations Plan.
Office of Human Resources
  • Provides resources and tools for units to track employee payroll status throughout the State of Emergency.
  • Provides guidelines and consultation on human resource policies and issues such as compensation, flexible scheduling, assignment of work, benefits, telecommuting, job sharing, etc.
  • Advises and consults on issues related to workplace exposure.
  • Provides an emergency employee placement service to match employees willing and able to work with units that have a particular need for their skills.
  • Communicates changes to standard processes and procedures.
Campus/College/Vice President Unit
  • Maintains confidentiality of emergency contact information to the extent allowed by law.
  • Provides workforce with regular, repetitive information regarding emergency, work continuance measures, and the status of the campus, college, or administrative unit and its departments.
  • Facilitates advance planning for emergencies; communicates such plans to employees and students employees.
  • Ensures that employees are trained and well informed regarding emergency procedures.
Department (Unit)
  • Determines mission-critical positions and their back-ups. Discusses designations with impacted employees and communicates to employees annually.
  • Maintains confidentiality of emergency contact information to the extent allowed by law.
  • Provides employees, supervisors, and leaders with regular, repetitive updates using a variety of communication mechanisms.
  • Plans for and provides flexible work arrangements in response to a variety of disturbances and individual needs.
  • Communicates work expectations to faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student employees regularly and repetitively.
  • Facilitates employing unit support networks to the extent possible and as appropriate (e.g. care for property, family, or pets, sharing rides, sharing jobs, etc.)
  • Refers employees to University Employee Assistance Program or other support resources as needed and appropriate.
  • Implements directives.
  • Provides department with current emergency contact information, and updates it on an on-going basis.
  • Discusses alternative work arrangements such as working from home or another location in case of a State of Emergency with the responsible administrator supervisor.
  • Contacts department to determine need to report for work.
  • If approved by the department, reports for work when able and appropriate, whether on campus, at home, or at another location.
  • If unable to report to work, updates department of condition or whereabouts as soon as possible.
  • Communicates specific requests and needs to department.



October 2009

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Last modified on October 2, 2013