Human Resources Guidelines During Periods of Pre-Critical and Critical Incidents

The following guidelines have been developed to address issues that may arise during periods when the campus is experiencing an incident that impacts services and programs.


Pre-critical Incident
A pre-critical Incident occurs when employee absences increase across campus or in units that provide services and programs to students, faculty and staff. Employee absence may be because of the employee’s inability to work, because of an event or condition in the employee’s immediate family/household that prevents the employee from being able to work, or because of a threat to the safety of the employee or the employee’s family.
Critical Incident
A critical incident occurs when the President or his designee declares that an incident directly impacts the operational/essential services of the campus and orders all or all non-essential staff not to report to work until the incident has passed.


  1. The following assumes that the campus is in a pre-critical incident period. These guidelines are appropriate for employees in all classifications. The following guidelines will be in effect during the period the University is open for business as usual.
    1. If an employee cannot report to work because either the employee or a member of his/her immediate family/household is ill or there is a threat to the safety of the employee or a member of his/her immediate family/household:
      • The employee must use accrued sick leave/vacation benefits in accordance with University policies.
      • The employee may use accrued vacation/personal leave when sick leave is exhausted as allowed by University policies.
      • A non-exempt employee (eligible for overtime) may be allowed to use any accumulated compensatory time when sick leave/vacation is exhausted in accordance with University policies.
      • The employee may use accrued floating holidays when sick leave/vacation is exhausted, if eligible.
      • The employee may be eligible for up to twelve weeks of excused absence with or without pay under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
      • The employee may be eligible for SURS disability if he/she anticipates being absent from work for more than 60 calendar days due to his/her own medical condition.
    2. If an employee refuses to report to work because of fear for his or her safety or physical well-being:
      • The employee’s absence could be considered unauthorized and unexcused and subject to potential disciplinary action as applicable if the employee is not granted approved vacation time by the employing unit. The employing unit, with approval from Campus Human Resources, could authorize telecommuting.
    3. If an employee reports to work but refuses to perform certain tasks or to work in certain areas because of fear for his or her safety or physical well-being:
      • Each situation will be handled on a case-by case basis balancing legitimate concern versus operating needs of the unit/campus. It may be possible to make temporary accommodations in these instances.
    4. If an employee who has been authorized to be off of work because of illness and who is contagious to others demands to report to work:
      • If it has been medically documented that an employee should not report to work, he/she will be required to stay off work until medically authorized to return. The employee may use benefits as described above or may be granted excused, unpaid absence.
    5. If a unit experiences a high rate of absenteeism because of a pre-critical incident and where such absenteeism impacts the unit’s ability to maintain operational effectiveness:
      • It is anticipated that units will be able to employ temporary staff to meet needs. The human resources offices will make every effort to expedite the hiring process to accommodate unit needs.
      • Units are encouraged to allow employees the opportunity to work from home or alternate work sites in accordance with campus guidelines. Campus Human Resources should be consulted regarding telecommuting arrangements for all employees who do not have a current, approved telecommuting agreement.
  2. In the event the President and/or the Chancellor formally declares an emergency/critical incident that impacts the operational/essential needs of the campus, the following policies will be implemented:
    • Civil Service

      Civil Service Statute and Rules will be suspended:

      • If a unit is experiencing high absenteeism, employees who remain on the job may be reassigned to perform any tasks that are within his/her abilities and in accordance with unit needs
      • The Staff Human Resources Office will recruit and/or refer individuals to civil service positions in order to meet emergent needs without regard to civil service employment rules

      If a civil service employee is reassigned to perform emergent duties during the period of the critical incident, the employee will continue to earn seniority in his/her regular classification for the period of time he/she is performing other duties

    • Academic and Graduate Assistants

      • Units will have the ability to use all available qualified employees in order to meet department responsibilities
    • All Employee Groups

      If a campus unit or the campus is closed, and affected employees are ordered not to report to work:

      • The President and/or the Chancellor will make all decisions regarding employees’ pay during the critical incident
      • Units will determine which employees are essential and should report to work and which employees should not report to work based on operational/essential needs (without regard to the formal civil service layoff process, if applicable).
      • If civil service employees are ordered not to report to work, they will continue to earn seniority in their regular classifications for the period of the critical incident.

The campus human resources offices will work closely with campus units to ensure that policies and procedures are followed. Campus units are encouraged to offer as much flexibility as possible to their employees who are impacted by a defined pre-critical and/or a critical incident.