Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness and University State Of Emergency Human Resources Policies

This document has been endorsed by the President and Vice Presidents of the University of Iowa. We consider it a working document based upon current policies and expect that it may be revised as new information becomes available related to operations during a disaster or pandemic, or based on further direction we may receive from University leadership, the Board of Regents, the State of Iowa, and/or other civil authorities. We urge you to familiarize yourself with this and other disaster-related materials in order to be optimally prepared in the event of a disaster or pandemic.

The University recognizes the need to prepare for unexpected catastrophic events such as natural or human made disasters or the outbreak of pandemic illnesses, as well as the need to return the University as quickly as possible to its normal operations should such events occur. Our preparation, response, and recovery will draw upon local, state, and federal agencies and experts. To prepare and support leaders, managers, and employees, this policy provides information related to human resource practices in the event of a University state of emergency. All University community members should familiarize themselves with their department and college/division plans, as well as the University Critical Incident Management Plan, and the Pandemic Influenza Response Plan.

Guidelines

Definitions

  • Emergency Closing – The Disrupted Workplace Policy addresses circumstances where University facilities become unavailable due to weather-related emergencies, or short-term facility or utility failure. An emergency closing has neither the catastrophic affect nor the duration or impact on the university that a university state of emergency has. Emergency closings and university state of emergencies are identified as such when they are declared.
  • Employee – Employee refers to faculty, staff, graduate assistants and student employees.
  • Essential Function  One that must be carried out (irrespective of whether classes are suspended and a large proportion of personnel are unable to work) to avoid (1) endangering the lives, well-being, or safety of people or animals relying on the University; or (2) irreparable damage to University property. (Under this definition, teaching is not considered an essential function.)
  • University State of Emergency – A university state of emergency is in effect when the University President or designee acts to declare such a state under the guidelines set forth in the University’s Critical Incident Management Plan. The University state of emergency may be specific to Iowa City or any other university location, restricted to particular areas or populations of the campus, or may be university-wide, depending on circumstances at the time.
  • Work – Refers to time spent engaging in approved university work activities from any approved location.

When this Policy is in Effect

  • These policies will become active and remain in effect when a university state of emergency is declared, as defined herein. If a university state of emergency is not declared, regular university policies remain in effect.
  • Portions of this document may be activated by the President, in consultation with the Vice President for Human Resources and the Vice President (VP) Group, should a catastrophic event be anticipated. Portions of this document may remain in effect during a recovery period following a university state of emergency, as designated by the President in consultation with the Vice President for Human Resources and VP Group.

Guiding Principles

  • The University will make every effort to provide necessary information to the University community throughout any university state of emergency.
  • Departments should be as flexible as possible to enable all faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student employees to continue to work and maintain operations to the extent possible, including facilitating working from home and other remote locations; allowing full-time employees to work part-time; using flexible work schedules or alternate work assignments; and other appropriate solutions during the emergency period.
  • Unless directed otherwise, individuals who are able to work are expected to report for work given their capabilities, and support the department or university in whatever capability is needed. Faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student employees can be required to work outside their usual classifications/responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work.
  • In the event of a pandemic, to minimize the spread of the disease, employees may be directed not to report to the workplace. Normal leave policies will be applied until and unless a decision to change them for the emergency event is made by the proper authority and communicated to campus.
  • The University will be considered a “community asset” and a “state asset” in responding to a pandemic. University Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) and Student Health Service (SHS) will experience increased demand for medical treatment and advice from faculty, staff, students, and the community. For this reason, most employees of these facilities perform essential functions and may be required to report to work as scheduled, or may be called to report to work if not scheduled. Staff from throughout the University may be asked to provide support to the extent they are qualified and available.

Essential, Back-Up, and Regular Functions

  • Functions not designated as essential or back-up to essential functions are considered to be “regular” during a university state of emergency. Depending upon the type of emergency or disaster, position designations may change during the emergency. Any function may be designated as essential at any point during a university state of emergency, even if designated as a regular function prior to the university state of emergency.
  • Designations of essential and back-up to essential functions are made by director or DEO level appointments or higher.
    • Essential Functions – Departments must designate functions which are essential, the primary person to perform those functions, and the persons who will serve as back-up to functions designated as essential, and communicate these designations to employees.
    • Employees identified as the primary person performing essential functions are expected to report to campus for work during university states 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. Employees performing essential functions may be expected to work from remote locations as directed by the proper authority.
    • Back-Up Persons for Essential Functions–Employees designated as back-up to essential functions whose designations are changed to essential during a university state of emergency must report to campus to work upon notification of their changed designation. Back-up employees must contact their departments for instructions during a university state of emergency.
    • Regular Functions–Employees performing regular functions should not report to campus during a university state of emergency. Employees who can work from home or another location may do so only with prior approval from the supervisor/department.
    • Individuals performing regular functions may expect their department to attempt to contact them. Individuals are expected to contact their department to report the development of influenza symptoms as part of the Pandemic Influenza Response plan. Individuals also are expected to access communication resources as designated during a university state of emergency in order to stay informed regarding their University employment and related responsibilities.
  • Departments will determine if there is meaningful work for particular employees to do, determine acceptable alternative work arrangements, 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.
  • Any function may be designated as essential at any point during a university state of emergency, and any person may be identified as needed to perform an essential function, even if not designated essential or back-up to an essential function prior to the university state of emergency.
  • Directions for Employees and Departments–Employees and departments must follow the directions in the information below. Departments and individuals must remember that communication during a university state of emergency will be challenging. Departments need to be reasonable and flexible in responding to employee requests and understand that there may be delays in both communications and in adherence to established call-in procedures.

Performs Essential Functions (able to work; any location)

What to Do

  • Contact department to ensure where to work (campus location, home, other designated location)
  • Report to work as directed by the department
  • If contact with the department cannot be made, report to work

Compensation and Leave Time

  • Will receive regular base pay and overtime compensation as applicable

Performs Essential Functions (not able to work at any location)

What to Do

  • Contact department to communicate specific reasons for inability to work or seek approval for absence
  • Do not report to work if specifically directed to report by
    - Department
    - Civil emergency or medical authorities for health and safety reasons

Compensation and Leave Time

  • Will be granted paid or unpaid leave provided that established departmental call-off rules and procedures are followed and consistent with UI absence policies and collective bargaining agreements

Identified as Back-Up (to essential function)

What to Do

  • Contact department to inquire as to whether you are needed and if so, where to report for work (campus location, home, or other designated location)

Compensation and Leave Time

  • If designated as essential, see essential function information
  • If not designated as essential, see regular function information

Performs Regular Functions (able to work)

What to Do

  • Contact department to determine if you are needed to work
  • If you cannot make contact with your department, do not come to work
  • Work from home or another location if:
    • approved to do so in advance, or
    • upon approval during the university state of emergency

Compensation and Leave Time

  • If approved to work by the department, will be paid according to usual practice for time worked
  • If not approved to work by the department, or if approved to work fewer than regularly scheduled hours, will be granted paid or unpaid leave consistent with UI absence policies and collective bargaining agreements
  • If working outside the classification, will receive no less than their regular base pay for original appointment

Performs Regular Functions
(able to work but not approved by department to work)

What to Do

  • Contact department to determine if you are needed to work

Compensation and Leave Time

  • Will be granted paid or unpaid leave consistent with UI absence policies and collective bargaining agreements

Performs Regular Functions (not able to work)

What to Do

  • Contact department to communicate your status

Compensation and Leave Time

  • Will be granted paid or unpaid leave consistent with UI absence policies and collective bargaining agreements

Paid and Unpaid Leave During a University State of Emergency

  • Employees may request approval for use of sick leave, vacation leave or compensatory time, consistent with policies and/or collective bargaining agreements for the respective employee group
  • Eligible employees may access the Catastrophic Leave Program for their own or a family member’s illness per the terms of the program.
  • Unpaid leave may be requested consistent with policies and/or collective bargaining agreements for the respective employee group.
  • Any changes to normal paid leave practices made by the proper authorities during an emergency event will be communicated to faculty, staff, and students by the University.

Other Human Resource Issues During a University State of Emergency

  • Employees may be mandated to work based upon unit and/or university needs.
  • Working Outside of Classification and Home College/Division
    Employees may be required to work outside of classification as deemed necessary by the department or university. This includes employees with the necessary skills that are needed to work outside their colleges/divisions. In these cases, the university will notify these employees that they are designated to perform essential functions and when and where they must report to work. Reassignment may require special skills, background checks, and/or health screening. Any training necessary to perform in the reassignment will be provided. The college/division for which the work is performed typically is responsible for compensation at no less than the individual’s regular base pay for their original appointment regardless of the work performed.
  • Grant-Funded Employees
    Employees funded by external grants must be paid according to the specific requirements and limitations of the grant. Employing units and principal investigators are encouraged to work with funding agencies to determine how grant-funded employees will be paid in advance of any university state of emergency.
  • Bargaining Unit Staff
    Staff represented by unions will be compensated in accordance with the terms of their collective bargaining agreements for time worked and may be required to work out of classification as deemed necessary by the department or university.
  • Graduate Assistants and Student Employees
    Graduate assistants and student employees should make reasonable efforts to contact their departments during a university state of emergency, and are to report to work as needed. Student employees are not eligible for paid leave and will be paid only for hours worked. Graduate assistants covered by the collective bargaining agreement with UE Local 896/COGS may request approval for leave consistent with the collective bargaining agreement
  • Compensatory Time Off
    The University reserves the right to award compensatory time off in lieu of overtime to eligible staff during a university state of emergency.
  • Staff Probationary Periods
    Staff probationary periods are suspended for the duration of the University state of emergency, or up to 50 work days.
  • Recruitment and Selection
    The Office of Human Resources and/or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity may implement expedited recruitment and selection processes during a university state of emergency as needed.

Procedure

President and President's Cabinet Responsibilities

  • Declare a university state of emergency as appropriate.
  • Consult and collaborate with the Board of Regents, government and emergency relief agencies.
  • Communicate regularly and repetitively to the campus and broader campus community.
  • Communicate changes to standard processes and procedures.
  • Ensure that disaster planning and preparedness is a priority within the university community, and that departments are prepared to implement their disaster plans and this policy.
  • Ensure, to the extent possible, that departments have the resources needed to carry out essential functions.

University Human Resources Responsibilities

  1. Provide guidelines and consultation on human resource issues such as compensation, work assignments, flexible scheduling, benefits, job sharing, and application of collective bargaining agreements and University policies.
  2. Maintain emergency contact information to the extent allowed by law and honor confidentiality requirements for that information.
  3. Provide an emergency worker placement service to match up employees able to work with units that have a need for their skills.
  4. Communicate changes to standard processes and procedures.

College/Division Responsibilities

  • Maintain emergency contact information to the extent allowed by law and honor confidentiality requirements for that information.
  • Provide workforce with regular, repetitive information regarding the emergency, work continuance measures, and the status of the college/division and its departments.
  • Facilitate advance planning for emergencies; communicate such plans to employees and students.
  • Ensure that employees are trained and well-informed regarding emergency procedures.
  • Department Responsibilities
  • Determine primary persons to perform essential functions and their back-ups. Discuss designations with impacted employees and communicate to employees at least annually.
  • Maintain emergency contact information to the extent allowed by law and honor confidentiality requirements for that information.
  • Provide employees, supervisors and leaders with regular, repetitive updates during an emergency using a variety of communication mechanisms.
  • Make serious efforts to be as flexible as appropriate so as to enable all persons performing essential employees to work, including facilitating working from home or other remote locations, flexible work schedules, alternate work assignments that provide benefit to the University, and other solutions as appropriate.
  • Communicate your work expectations to faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student employees regularly and repetitively.
  • Facilitate employing unit support networks to the extent possible and as appropriate (e.g., care for property, family or pets; sharing rides; sharing jobs, etc).
  • Refer employees to the Employee Assistance Program (Faculty and Staff Services) or other support resources as needed and appropriate.
  • Implement directives.
  • If a staff member is directed to report to work, is otherwise able to report to work, and refuses the directive of a proper authority to report to work, follow normal corrective action procedures as appropriate once the emergent situation has stabilized, and upon consultation with the Senior HR Leadership Representative for the respective college/division.

Employee Responsibilities

  • Provide department with current emergency contact information, and update it on an ongoing basis.
  • If identified as a person performing or potentially performing essential functions, make personal arrangements to make it possible to report to work as needed. Information available at the Flu.Gov website)
  • Discuss with your supervisor alternative work arrangements such as working from home or another location in case of a university state of emergency.
  • Contact your department to determine need to report for work.
  • If approved by the department, report for work as scheduled, or when called in to report to work if not scheduled, whether on campus, at home, or at another location.
  • If unable to report to work, update department of your condition and/or whereabouts as soon as possible.
  • Communicate specific requests and needs to your department.

Resources

For Consultation:

  • Human Resources: 319-335-3558
  • Hospital Human Resources: 319-356-2008

For more information:

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the University has the right to reassign employees to work outside their usual classifications/responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work. This includes employees with the necessary skills that are needed to work outside their colleges/divisions. In these cases, the University will notify these employees that they are designated as performing essential functions and when and where they must report to work.

Yes. The University has the right to temporarily adjust employees' work schedules to meet operational demands. This adjustment may be made on a case-by-case basis depending upon operational considerations. However, the ability to do so may be limited by a collective bargaining agreement; you should consult the applicable agreement for the classification(s) with which you are working and/or your HR Unit Representative.

Yes. If your Department Head or Dean determines to close all or part of the department's operations based on an emergency, then you have the authority to send employees home. The Operations Manual policy addressing Dealing with a Disrupted Work or Academic Environment (Disrupted Workplace Policy – DWP) recognizes that the workplace may be closed due to the crisis situations that adversely affect normal University operations.