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Essential Personnel

Policy Number: HR-18
Effective Date: September 2009
Responsible Officer: Senior Vice President of Student Life & Administrative Services


This policy provides guidelines for the identification and use of Essential Personnel during campus emergencies, including those that dictate suspension of services and/or closure of operations. During an emergency, Essential Personnel and Managers provide services that relate directly to the health, safety, and welfare of the University, ensure continuity of key operations, and maintain and protect Drexel University properties.


In the event of severe weather conditions or other emergency situations the University may suspend normal operations and classes in whole or part. If normal activities are suspended in any way, all employees whose positions are designated as essential must report to their campus as soon as conditions reasonably permit in order to ensure the continuation of critical University operations, attend to the needs of students and others, and protect the University’s assets.


This policy applies to all Drexel University faculty and professional staff.


  1. Suspension of Operations: There are basically three levels of suspended operations that may require the activation of essential personnel and releasing of non-essential personnel. The examples below are an attempt to define increasing levels of urgency. In the end, the nature of the emergency will determine what services should continue and who is then essential to the continued operation of the campus. The distinction between the levels described below is blurred by the specifics of the circumstance at hand. The following is offered as a general guideline.
    1. Level I Crisis
      • Event Cancellation or Localized Closing - Suspension of Select Services and/or Events or Closing of Select Buildings: Inability to conduct specific activities or to do so in specific areas.
      • Examples: Extreme conditions or localized emergencies (e.g., fire, local power outage, localized crisis situation) that make working conditions in a particular building or location intolerable or impossible.
      • Personnel Required: Outside the affected area all employees are required to perform duties as scheduled and required. All managers connected with the affected area or event are required to work to ensure appropriate event cancellation/building closing procedures are followed and to assure the safety of all those connected with the space or event. Select Essential Personnel may also be required.
      • Release:Non-essential personnel and students in the affected area or assigned to the affected event.
    2. Level II Crisis
      • Campus Closure – Suspension of Non-Essential Services: Inability to conduct business
      • Examples: Complete loss of power; response to a national incident elsewhere, University President issues directive to release non-essential personnel, or Governor issues state of emergency. The Drexel Emergency Response Team may be activated.
      • Personnel Required: Essential managers and select essential personnel
      • Release: All students and all faculty.
    3. Level III Crisis
      • Suspension of All Services - Extreme Emergency: Direct threat to health or safety of the campus
      • Examples: Actual incident affecting this campus (e.g. plane crash on campus, air or water contaminated). Drexel’s Emergency Response Team is activated.
      • Personnel Required: Essential managers and Essential personnel.
      • Release: All other professional staff and managers and all faculty and students, including evacuation of the residence halls
  2. Essential Services: Those services that are determined to be critical to the functioning of the University. In the event of a crisis or emergency, senior management will determine which services are essential based on the defining nature of the situation or event.
  3. Essential Management: All managers will be considered essential until a decision is made about which services will be closed or suspended. Once a determination is made as to what, if any, services are to remain open to students, managers in those areas must report for or remain on duty and must provide appropriate staffing.
  4. Essential Personnel: Professional staff and faculty members identified by department administrators as critical to the continuation of operations and key services in the event of an emergency.


  1. Decisions Regarding Essential Personnel and Managers:
    • Department administrators are responsible for designating which faculty and professional staff members are “Essential.” This determination is made on the basis of the essential duties of the jobs and the needs of the university. Precisely who will function as Essential Personnel during an emergency may vary depending upon the circumstances.
    • Department administrators must provide a list of essential personnel (including managers) to the Vice President of Human Resources. This list must be updated on a semi-annual basis (e.g., in January and July). Human Resources will share the initial and updated lists of essential personnel with the Senior Associate Vice President of Public Safety. Additionally, department administrators must notify, in writing, each professional staff member and manager identified as “essential” that they have received this designation (See Appendix A for a template). In this written notice, they must also detail what this designation entails, including duties and responsibilities the employee may have during a campus emergency. This policy must also be reviewed with the employee.
  2. Decisions Regarding Suspension of Operations and Essential Personnel:
    • Decisions regarding closure or suspension of services or events will be made by the President with the Senior Vice President of Student Life and Administrative Services and the Provost in consultation with other University Executives as needed.
    • Essential Personnel decisions will be made by Drexel’s Emergency Response Team’s Incident Commander at the time of the emergency. When determining the need for essential personnel, the Incident Commander will consider the nature and severity of the emergency and related staffing needs when determining which personnel, beyond those deemed essential, are needed to meet the specific situation. These individuals will be notified of the need to report for duty by the appropriate administrator in person or by phone and in writing via email. Notification will include:
      • the anticipated duration of the emergency
      • the expected schedule.
  3. Communication and Information Concerning the University’s Operational Status:
    • Once a decision for closure or suspension is made by the President, s/he will notify the Office of University Relations at both the University and the College of Medicine. The Office of University Relations will then notify all those affected by the closure or suspension via any of the following tools: the campus emergency alert system (Drexel Alert), email, voice mail, and the University’s homepage (
  4. Reporting for Emergency Duty:
    • University employees designated essential personnel must remain on duty or report to work to avoid interruption of essential services unless directed or permitted to do otherwise, as indicated by their department administrator.
    • Essential personnel should keep a copy of this policy and of the email notification of their activation in their vehicles to identify themselves to authorities during University emergencies. Specific identification will be provided to essential personnel on site. Essential personnel will be required to wear this identification while on duty during the entire duration of a University emergency.
    • Excused from duty for risk or other key issue:
      • Depending on the nature and severity of the emergency, Individuals, including essential personnel, may be excused from emergency service by their department administrator, for the following reasons:
      • The employee has a personal circumstance that prohibits their ability to report to duty or necessitates departure from the workplace (ex., child or elder care issue).
      • The employee or an immediate family member has a documented preexisting medical condition that may increase the risk of mortality for them or for their family member.
      • A decision has been made by local or regional government that travel between the employee’s home and the University is prohibitively risky. Employees who cannot travel must notify their supervisors as soon as possible.
      • The employee provides documentation that s/he is a medical professional who has high risk patients under his or her direct care.
    • Unexcused/Non-approved absence:
      • Employees who are required to work during an emergency but refuse to do so are subject to corrective action up to and including termination.
  5. Safety Measures:
    • Depending on the nature of the emergency and of the job performed, as well as applicable laws and regulations, the University will provide essential employees with appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment.
    • Additionally, in the event of a medical emergency, the University will provide all essential personnel and, if required by the nature of the event, their immediate family members with the appropriate available prophylactic medications and/or vaccinations.
  6. Attendance and Compensation for Emergency Duty
    • The following attendance and compensation policies shall be in effect for employees required to report to or remain at work during periods of emergency closing, suspension, or cancellation:
      1. All employees who are required to report to or remain at work (i.e., employees whose work units are not closed or those called into work by their administrative head) shall work as scheduled.
      2. Any employee who is required to work but unable to do so as scheduled, for whatever reason, must contact his/her immediate supervisor at least one hour in advance of the employee's starting time to report his/her absence.
      3. Hourly paid employees who report or remain at work as required during a closing will be paid time and one half for time worked during the emergency. Salaried employees who report or remain at work as required will receive pay at their regular salary and will receive compensatory time equal to one and one half the number of hours worked during the emergency.
      4. Current policies regarding time off shall apply: Essential hourly personnel who do not report to work must use vacation, sick, or time off without pay. Essential personnel who live in counties where the sheriff has declared a "Level 3" weather (or other) emergency will receive pay at their regular straight time rate. Non-essential hourly employees, who report to work without being told to, will receive regular pay.
      5. The following compensation policies shall be in effect for those employees whose work units are closed and who are not asked to work:
        • Hourly and salaried employees receive pay at their regular wages.
        • Hourly employees who report to work without being told will receive pay at their regular straight time rate.
        • Employees prescheduled for vacation, sick or other time off prior to the emergency-closing announcement may not rescind their time off request after the announcement.
        • When it is announced that a segment of the University campus will be closed for a portion of the day, hourly paid employees requesting to leave work earlier than the scheduled closing time must have the approval of the appropriate supervisor and must use accrued vacation time, sick time, or leave without pay, in that order to account for the additional hours of absence.