Emergency Preparedness

Campus Coronavirus Updates

Visit the University of Iowa coronavirus website for the latest information about COVID-19 and the university’s response.

This page provides general information about emergency preparedness. For the most up to date campus information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Novel Coronavirus Information webpage.

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, these guidelines provide information related to human resources practices in the event of a university state of emergency. All university community members should familiarize themselves with their department and college/division business continuity plans, as well as the University Critical Incident Management Plan including the Public Health Emergency Plan.

Definitions

  • Emergency facility closure: The Disrupted Workplace Policy addresses circumstances where University facilities become uninhabitable due to weather-related emergencies, or short-term facility or utility failure. An emergency facility closure may or may not be related to a university state of emergency. Emergency facility closures and university states of emergency are identified as such when they are declared.
  • Employee: Employee refers to faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student employees.
  • Essential function: UI work activity that must continue (irrespective of whether classes are suspended and/or 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 these Policies Take Effect

These policies and procedures 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 and procedures remain in effect.

Portions of these procedures may be activated by the president in consultation with the Critical Incident Management Team should a critical incident be anticipated, and may remain in effect during a recovery period following a university state of emergency.

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 utilizing other appropriate solutions during the emergency period.

Unless directed otherwise, individuals who can work are expected to report for work and support the department or university in whatever capacity 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 University authority and communicated to campus.

The university will be considered a community asset and a state asset in responding to a pandemic. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Student Health Service likely will experience increased demand for medical treatment and advice from faculty, staff, students, and the community. For this reason, most employees of these units 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 regular functions during a university state of emergency. Depending upon the type of emergency, 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.  Any person may be identified as needed to perform an essential function, even if not designated asprimary or back-up to an essential 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 perform those functions, 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 primary for essential functions 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 if they become unable to work due to illness or injury during the university state of emergency. Individuals also are expected to monitor university communication channels 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 perform, 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.

Directions for Departments and Employees

Employees and departments must follow the directions in the information below. Departments and individuals must expect 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.

Employees Who Perform Essential Functions (who are able to work)

What to Do

  • Contact department for instructions regarding where to work (campus location, home, other designated location).
  • Report to work as directed by the department.
  • If unable to make contact with the department, report to work as usual.

Compensation and Leave Time

  • Will receive regular base pay and overtime compensation as applicable.

Employees Who Perform Essential Functions (who are not able to work)

What to Do

  • Contact department to communicate specific reasons for inability to work and seek approval for absence, according to established departmental procedures.
  • Do not report to work if specifically directed not to report by department or by 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.

Employees Identified as Back-Up to Essential Function

What to Do

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

Compensation and Leave Time

  • If designated as needed to perform essential function, see essential function information above.
  • If not designated as needed to perform essential function, see regular function information below.

Employees Who Perform Regular Functions (who are able to work)

What to Do

  • Contact department to determine if you are needed to work.
  • If you cannot contact 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 their normal classification, will receive no less than their regular base pay for original appointment.

Employees Who Perform Regular Functions (who are 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 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 university authorities during an emergency event will be communicated to faculty, staff, and students by the University.

Other Human Resources Issues During State of Emergency

  • Employees may be required 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 their normal 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 role 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 employeesEmployees 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 outside of their normal 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 directed. Bi-weekly student employees are not eligible for paid leave and will be paid only for hours worked. Graduate assistants may request approval for leave consistent with the Graduate Assistant Employment 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 may be suspended for the duration of the University state of emergency, or up to 50 workdays.
  • Recruitment and selection:  University 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.

Roles & Responsibilities

President and President's Cabinet Responsibilities

  • Declare a university state of emergency as appropriate.
  • Consult and collaborate with the Iowa Board of Regents and other government and emergency relief agencies.
  • Communicate regularly and repetitively to the 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

  • 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.
  • Facilitate collection of emergency contact information in UI Self Service to the extent allowed by law and honor confidentiality requirements for that information.
  • Provide an emergency worker placement service to match up employees able to work with units that have a need for their skills.
  • 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, business continuity 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 functions 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 work expectations to faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student employees regularly and repetitively.
  • Refer employees to the Employee Assistance Program or other support resources as needed and appropriate.
  • Implement university/college/division 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 leader 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 essential functions or as back-up for essential functions, make personal arrangements so that you are able to report to work as needed.
  • Discuss with your supervisor alternative work arrangements such as working from home or another location in case of a university state of emergency. Anticipate resources that will enable you to work effectively from a remote location if approved.
  • Contact your department to determine need to report for work.
  • If approved by the department, report for work as scheduled; or report to work when called in even 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 status as soon as possible.
  • Communicate specific requests and needs to your department.
  • Understand university leave policies and know your current leave balances.

COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO HUMAN RESOURCES CONTINGENCY PLANNING ISSUES DURING A UNIVERSITY OF IOWA CAMPUS EMERGENCY

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 assigning employees with the necessary skills who are needed to work outside their colleges/divisions. When this action is necessary, supervisors should communicate with the affected employees to inform them that they are being reassigned to meet operational needs, and when and where they must report to work. Supervisors should consult with their local University Human Resources (UHR) representative, so they are informed and prepared to answer questions or concerns from affected employees.

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 needs. However, the ability to do so may be limited by UI policies or work rules. Supervisors should consult their local UHR representative, Employee and Labor Relations, or Health Care Employee and Labor Relations about the applicable rules for the employees with whom they are working.

Yes, if the department head/dean/vice president determines to close all, or part of the department’s operations based on an emergency. The UI Operations Manual policy addressing Dealing with a Disrupted Work or Academic Environment recognizes that the workplace may be closed due to crisis situations that adversely affect normal university operations. Employees who perform regular services, or any services not designated as essential services (see question #5 below) may be instructed to leave campus and not return to the workplace until directed to do so.(See question #7 below regarding pay issues.)

Yes. Allowing employees to telecommute may be a viable option during a campus emergency.  Please refer to the Disrupted Workplace Policy and information relating to Flexible Work Arrangements available on the Family Services website.

Yes. Employees who provide essential services are expected to report to work as scheduled.  Essential services are those required to maintain critical safety and security of students, patients, and University property. However, that may differ depending on the campus emergency. Essential services generally include but are not limited to UI Hospitals  & Clinics, including Iowa River Landing and ancillary clinical operations; Dental Clinics; Department of Public Safety; University Housing and Dining; State Hygienic Laboratory; Animal Resources; and Facilities Management. These units must remain open and in operation. Supervisors are expected to notify employees as to whether they are designated as performing essential services during the current campus emergency.

If an employee who provides essential services is unable to report to work as scheduled due to illness or injury, they must report their absence to their supervisor as soon as possible so that staffing coverage can be arranged. Absences may be charged to accrued sick leave if available or accrued compensatory time or vacation or taken as unpaid leave. The supervisor may require medical documentation authorizing an absence related to illness or injury. Please consult with Employee and Labor Relations or Health Care Employee and Labor Relations should you require further clarification. 

If a staff member is directed to report to work or remain at work, is otherwise able to report to work or remain at work, and refuses the directive, normal corrective action procedures should be followed as appropriate either immediately or once the emergent situation has stabilized, and upon consultation with the senior HR leader for the college/division.

Family Services (319-335-1371 or familyservices@uiowa.edu) provides information and referrals to UI staff and faculty regarding family care issues. Managers should direct employees to this unit for assistance. 

If telecommuting is not appropriate or available (See question #4 above), employees may be required to use accrued paid leave or leave without pay as authorized by University policies. The University’s intent is to avoid that option if possible. Timely processing of unpaid leaves is critical in order to avoid overpayments to employees. Normal leave policies will be applied until and unless a decision to change them for the campus emergency event is made by the proper University authority and communicated to campus. Any changes to normal paid leave practices made by the proper University authorities during a campus emergency will be communicated to faculty, staff, and students by the University.

We cannot answer this question definitively. An important component of each department’s emergency preparedness planning process is to identify its essential functions, a succession of persons available to perform the essential functions in the event of staff absences, as well as a succession of persons to whom overall authority would be designated in the event of absence(s). In addition, UI policies may have provisions related to temporary layoff that will need to be consulted.

In the event of a campus emergency, including a public health emergency, management has the right to schedule work and assign work duties to employees in order to meet operational needs. Managers have the discretion to reassign an employee’s job duties as deemed necessary to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work, and to explore alternate arrangements in order to ensure that essential operations continue. 

Managers may consider allowing alternate work arrangements including working at home by assessing their operational needs.  In fact, it may be prudent for the department and the employees to work together to find ways to enable employees to perform their job functions away from the regular work location.  

Employee and Labor Relations, Health Care Employee and Labor Relations, or Family Services may assist managers in evaluating the issues when considering approving alternate work arrangements. Please refer to the information relating to alternate work arrangements on the Family Services website.

With respect to workers’ compensation, the telecommuter’s at-home work area is an extension of their University workspace. Injuries occurring in the at-home work area are handled just as the injury would be if it occurred at the regular work location. The telecommuter should be instructed to notify the supervisor immediately if any injuries occur during work hours. As with any workplace injury, the supervisor shall, upon being made aware of the injury, immediately refer the employee to the UI Occupational Health Clinic and instruct the employee to complete a First Report of Injury via UI Self Service. 

Unpaid leave may be requested and granted consistent with UI policies.

Otherwise, any changes to normal paid leave practices made by the proper University authorities during a campus emergency event will be communicated to faculty, staff, and students by the University when such decisions are made.

Decisions such as this will depend on the specific circumstances of the emergency. Departments should consult with their senior HR leader to address questions related to pay status of employees. Any changes to normal paid leave practices made by the proper University authorities during a campus emergency event will be communicated to faculty, staff, and students by the University when such decisions are made.

Yes.

Yes. Employees should know what to expect before a campus emergency occurs. In those departments that expect to remain operational, employees need to know what role they will play. Therefore, it is prudent planning to include employees in the development of contingency plans, inform them of their anticipated role in the event of an emergency, and inform them of the communications plan. 

The majority of the decisions that departments will make are well within the UI’s right to manage the workplace. We recommend that departments do not delay implementation of contingency plans to avoid impeding continued operations. However, departments should advise Employee and Labor Relations or Health Care Employee and Labor Relations as changes are implemented. ELR or Health Care ELR will notify the union(s) if necessary and as soon as possible. 

Departments are expected to maintain their existing expectations related to absences during a campus emergency, including a public health emergency. Employees will continue to be responsible for complying with the established work schedule and existing absence reporting policy. If circumstances outside of the employee’s control make them unable to comply with departmental policy, they should communicate with their supervisor who will evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis. Supervisors are encouraged to offer reasonable flexibility regarding documentation of absence for illness during a public health emergency.  

If a healthy employee wishes to stay home to avoid possible exposure, they are expected to comply with existing departmental policy by requesting time off from their supervisor. To be considered an authorized absence, the time off must be approved by the supervisor in advance. Approval of vacation will be at the supervisor’s discretion in order to meet operational needs. However, supervisors are encouraged to offer reasonable flexibility when possible without interfering with operational needs.

Yes. Employees may be sent home if they are sick. The University is required to maintain a safe and healthy environment and has broad discretion over when and where an employee is at work. 

Supervisors are not expected to determine whether someone has a pandemic illness. During a public health emergency, information about common symptoms is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Employee Health Clinic, and Student Health Services. In addition, each will be updated as information becomes available. If an employee is ill, they may be sent home and advised to contact their health care provider if experiencing symptoms reported by the CDC/IDPH. Both the Employee Health Clinic and Student Health Services will be available for consultation as the need arises. 

Yes. The information received is to be used to support and monitor the health and safety of the workplace and will be treated as a confidential medical record. 

Yes. Services provided by the UI Employee Assistance Program are important components of the University’s established emergency preparedness plans. Employees may also access mental health services as covered under the University medical plans.

If a supervisor observes or the employee discloses a health condition that is related to the employee’s inability to perform their job duties during a campus emergency, or is related to the employee’s ability to safely evacuate during a campus emergency, the supervisor should notify Faculty and Staff Disability Services or Leave and Disability Administration (UI Health Care) and they will facilitate discussions with the employee. Engaging in the interactive process gives all parties the opportunity to explore the need for accommodations and available alternatives to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the position and to maintain safety during emergency situations. This process ensures compliance with the UI policy in support of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Yes. It is advisable to request employees’ contact information if the department has determined that it may need to contact certain employees responsible for performing essential functions during periods they may not be scheduled to work. Such information may include personal telephone numbers, cellular phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. If the department has not already done so, we suggest that the department should define the essential functions performed within the department and compile a list of positions necessary to perform those essential functions. This will allow the department to amend the formal job descriptions for those positions to include the necessity of providing contact information.

Yes. If there is a business need to do so and the employee is given reasonable notice of the requirement. Management should maintain only such information as specifically authorized by the employee and should inform the employee of the context in which this information will be used. Personal telephone numbers will be confidential, and the list will not be openly distributed and only be accessed in an emergency.

Yes. When traveling on UI business, the traveler should be reasonably available during regular work hours, considering the business-related activities involved in the trip.

Possibly. In the Health Care environment (UI Hospitals & Clinics, including Iowa River Landing; Dental Clinics; and Student Health Services), a primary consideration is maintaining patient care and ensuring patient safety. UI Health Care may determine that additional precautionary measures are necessary to protect patient safety in the event of a campus emergency, including a public health emergency. Health Care employees should consult with their supervisor or HR representative for relevant information and updates.

Contact Information

Administrative Services

Phone
Fax
319-353-2384
Campus Address
121-10 USB
Mailing Address

121 University Services Building, Suite 10
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States