Essential Personnel Policy

Policy Title Essential Personnel Policy
Policy Category Operational Policies
Original Policy Approval Date January 11, 2017
Policies Superseded None
Responsible Office Finance
Related Policies None
Frequency of Review Three (3) Years
Date of Next Review June 8, 2023
Date of Revision  

I. Scope

This Essential Personnel Policy (“Policy”) applies to all eligible non-student staff and faculty members. See Section IV for the definitions of capitalized terms.

II. Policy Statement

This Policy provides assistance to University management for the identification and use of Essential Personnel during campus emergencies or other conditions that require campus closure or Suspension of Operations. Essential Personnel provide services that relate directly to the health, safety, and welfare of the entire University community, ensure continuity of key operations, and maintain and protect University property.

III. Policy

In the event of Extraordinary Situations, the University may suspend normal operations and classes in whole or in part. In such instances, all faculty and staff members who have been designated as Essential Personnel must fulfill the duties set forth in this Policy in order to (1) ensure the continuation of critical University operations; (2) attend to the needs of students and other members of the University community; and (3) protect the University’s assets.

Identification of Essential Personnel

Department Supervisors or their designees are responsible for identifying the faculty and/or staff members to be designated as Essential Personnel for their respective departments or offices. This determination is made solely on the basis of the essential duties of the jobs and the needs of the University. The particular Essential Personnel who are activated during a suspension of normal operations will vary depending upon the circumstances and the nature and severity of the event.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of identified functional areas that are considered essential:

  • Athletics
  • Communications
  • Dining
  • Environmental Health & Safety (including lab animal care)
  • Facilities
  • Finance
  • Health Services
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology (web, email, telephone, data networks, and computer operations)
  • Procurement (emergency purchasing and processing)
  • Public Safety
  • Student Residence Life
  • Student Engagement

Faculty and staff members designated as Essential Personnel are required to report to and/or remain at work as directed by their Department Supervisor during a Suspension of Operations. Until the Emergency Management Team makes a decision about the nature and extent of the Extraordinary Situation, all senior management should be considered essential to the function of the University. Thereafter, the Essential Personnel’s Department Supervisor and/or the Emergency Management Team will determine and communicate which functions are essential and if any Essential Personnel will be excused from reporting to work. Dismissal of classes and/or cancellation of events do not necessarily mean that campus operations will shut down completely as students remain on campus and staff are needed to continue to work.

Whenever possible, Essential Personnel should be designated in advance of an Extraordinary Situation and will be compensated as described within this Policy. In the event an Extraordinary Situation occurs, the University reserves the right to require other employees not previously selected to be designated on an ad hoc basis as Essential Personnel based on the nature of the emergency and/or the availability of other personnel. In those rare cases, the University will make every effort to give as much notice as possible to the affected employees.

The ability of Essential Personnel to report to and/or remain at work during an Extraordinary  Situation that necessitates closure or Suspension of Operations is considered a job requirement. They may be excused only with the specific authorization of their Department Supervisor. Essential Personnel who fail to report to and/or remain at work when required to do so for other than the reasons set forth below during a Suspension of Operations, may have their absence charged to their paid time off as well as be subject to disciplinary procedures including termination of employment.

Excused from Essential Personnel Designation

Depending on the nature and Suspension of Operations, and at the discretion of the Department Supervisor, Essential Personnel may be excused from performing essential duties for the following reasons:

  • The faculty or staff member has a medical condition;
  • The faculty or staff member has a personal circumstance that prohibits him or her from reporting to duty or necessitates departure from the workplace during the course of the Suspension of Normal Operations; or
  • Local or regional government authorities have determined that travel at the time of activation between the faculty or staff member’s location and the assigned work area creates a risk of harm to the faculty or staff member or others, or is prohibited. 


Non-exempt employees who perform essential services will be compensated with premium pay at a rate of double the regular hourly rate for all hours worked during a Suspension of Operations. There shall be no pyramiding of overtime i.e., practice of counting the same work hours against two different overtime (including premium rate) limits.

With Department Supervisor approval, non-exempt employees who are not Essential Personnel but are on campus and otherwise available and willing to work are compensated the same as those required to be at work. These hours will be compensable at the premium pay rate, as described above.

University staff that is scheduled to work on a University holiday will generally be eligible only for holiday pay. The Vice President of Finance, in his/her discretion, may designate work performed by Public Safety officers and Facilities staff on a University holiday as essential and thus be eligible for compensation at the 2.0 premium rate as opposed to receiving regular holiday pay.

Exempt (or salaried) employees who perform Essential Services during a Suspension of Operations will receive their regular base salary. Exceptional circumstances can be discussed with Human Resources.

Travel Ban

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania identifies job functions that may be eligible for travel restriction exemption during a declared state of emergency and travel ban. Arcadia University will provide eligible Essential Personnel with appropriate travel ban documentation and/or credentials for their use when they are required to report to work in these situations. Shelter and food will be provided for Essential Personnel throughout the travel ban period.

Essential Personnel must use their best judgment to determine their own safety when traveling to and from work. Absences by Essential Personnel who are required to report to work may be reviewed on a case-by- case basis in consultation with the employee’s Department Supervisor and Human Resources.

If an Essential Personnel’s local police authority or municipality prohibits vehicular travel during an emergency, the faculty or staff member who is unable to travel must notify his or her Department Supervisor of this circumstance no later than one hour before the scheduled work start time. In this situation, the time-off is not charged if the employee provides documentation confirming the travel ban. When the emergency is lifted, Essential Personnel are expected to report to work, if still required.

Continuity of Operations Plan

All departments/offices should develop a contingency or continuity of operations plan that will enable them to identify services and employees who might be required to work during an emergency or campus closure situation, based on the nature of the emergency.

Scheduled Paid Leave

Paid leave, e.g. vacation, sick, personal, bereavement, is not restored to employees who, prior to the Suspension of Operations, have had designated as a paid leave day the day on which a late opening, early dismissal, or Suspension of Operations occurs. The entire day or days will remain charged to the employee’s paid leave.

All applicable employment policies will remain in effect for employees who report to work.

IV. Definitions

Department Supervisor is defined as the highest-ranking administrator in a department, center or college/school within the University, or their designee (i.e. Vice President, Provost, Dean, or Director).

Essential Personnel are defined as faculty and staff members who are required to report to work because they have been designated by their Department Supervisor and/or the Emergency Management Team as critical to the continuation of key operations and services in the event of a Suspension of Operations.

Emergency Management Team are designated University personnel charged with creating the framework within which the University community reduces vulnerability, risk, and hazards when faced with an Extraordinary Situation. The Emergency Management Team follows the guidelines and best practices set forth in the University Emergency Response Manual that can be found in the University’s Department of Public Safety.

Essential Services are defined as those services that are determined to be critical to the functioning of the University. In the event of a Suspension of Operations, the Vice President of Finance and/or the Provost, in consultation with the Emergency Management Team, will determine which services are essential based on the nature of the event.

Exempt Staff Member is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a faculty or staff member holding a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional position that is not subject to the overtime provisions of the Act. Exempt faculty or staff members are considered salaried and cannot be docked for anything less than a full day’s work.

Extraordinary Situations may include, but are not limited to, the following: bomb threats/terrorism, extended network interruptions, extended power interruptions, fire, flooded roads or buildings, hazardous material and or other environmental hazard, inclement weather, interruption of vital supplies, public health threat, violence or civil unrest.

Non-Exempt Staff Member is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a Staff Member holding a position that is subject to the overtime provisions of the Act. Senior Management includes the President, Vice Presidents, Associate/Assistant Vice Presidents, Directors, and Deans of the University.

Suspension of Operations is defined as the decision of the Vice President of Finance and/or Provost in consultation with the Emergency Management Team, to suspend University operations in whole or in part and may include University closure, early dismissal, delayed opening, cancelling classes, and/or closing administrative offices.

University is Arcadia University, its colleges, schools, affiliates, divisions, and subsidiaries. 

V. Effective Date

This Policy is effective on the date that it is signed by the President

VI. Date of Approval

January 11, 2017