Essential Employee Program

Policy Information
Policy TitleEssential Employee Program
Responsible OfficeOffice of the Vice President for Operations
Policy TypePersonnel and Payroll
Policy Number630
Last Revision Date8/15/2023


In the event of emergency situations, such as severe weather conditions or pandemic flu, the University may suspend normal operations and classes. If normal activities are suspended, all employees whose positions are designated as essential must report to campus (or remain on campus) or to another designated area to assess the University’s operations, protect its assets and provide critical services to the University community.

Special Note:  This policy is specific to employees designated as essential for emergency situations (primarily weather or other campus related emergencies).  The University and SUNY has a separate plan related to Continuity of Operations for a State Disaster Emergency Involving a Communicable Disease.  


It is the responsibility of the University to ensure that all conditions in the buildings and on campus grounds are safe and other required services are available during emergencies.

Essential positions are generally defined as those which hold duties and responsibilities that are considered mandatory for carrying out safety and operational services for the University including the continued mission-critical functioning of academic, enrollment management and scholarly research activities.

Deans and department managers, in collaboration with their divisional Vice President/Director, are responsible for designating positions as Essential for their particular unit. All essential employees should always assume they must report to work unless their supervisor advises otherwise.

Essential Employee (Relates to Inclement Weather and Other Emergency Conditions)

  • Generally, the State or County declares a "State of Emergency."
  • Essential Employees are required to either 1) remain at work until their shift is over (or later if directed), 2) report to work at their scheduled time (or earlier if directed).
    • If overtime is required, eligible employees will receive overtime pay.
    • If extraordinary additional time is required, UUP employees may be eligible for compensatory time depending on their specific situation.
  • When a State of Emergency is declared, the University will petition the Governor's Office of Employee Relations via SUNY for a directed departure / permission to send non-essential employees home without charge to their leave credits. This request is subject to approval and is not automatic. If a directed departure is not granted, employees who receive approval to leave early will be required to charge leave credits.
    For full-day absences, initially employees are required to charge their leave accruals. Human Resources will then petition the Civil Service Commission to request a suspension of the attendance rules for the day(s). If approved, leave accrual charges for the day will be restored.

Essential Employees will be issued advanced written notice of their standing as an essential employee. Essential employees will be issued a sticker to be affixed to the back of their University identification card identifying their status. It is incumbent upon departmental supervisors to insure that their essential employees have the required sticker. Supervisors should post this requirement when filling new positions that will require this status.

The Office of the Vice President of Operations will distribute stickers and maintain a database of essential employees by division and department. A call letter requesting updates will be sent to a representative from each division annually (generally during the summer).  The divisional representative will facilitate the process for his or her division. Each department will establish its departmental list of essential employees including employee name and contact information. The Office of the Vice President for Operations will notify employees of their mandatory essential employee status via a formal memorandum annually each fall semester or upon a new appointment. The essential employee's supervisor and Human Resources will receive a copy of the notification memorandum.

Human Resources will review on a case-by-case basis any essential employee who does not report to work to determine if any action is necessary. Any essential employee who does not report for any reason will be required to charge their time unless the University is authorized otherwise by the Governor's Office of Employee Relations.