Essential Employees

Adopted Policy 8.4

Policy Purpose

To set forth the University’s guidelines for essential employees in the event of an emergency.

Responsible Office

Office of Human Resources, Division for Finance and Administration

Responsible Executive

Chief Human Resources Officer

Policy Statement

In the event of an emergency, the University at Albany may suspend normal business 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. The University at Albany has the responsibility to ensure that all conditions in buildings and on campus grounds are safe and required and critical services are provided to the University at Albany community.

Persons Affected



Campus is any University owned, leased, licensed or operated space, including but not limited to the Uptown Campus, the Downtown Campus, Alumni Quad, and the Health Sciences Campus.

Emergency, for the purpose of this policy, is defined as a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected, or impending situation that may interfere with normal activities where immediate attention and/or remedial action is required. The University may need to suspend and/or modify some or all of its normal operations as determined by the type of Emergency.  Emergencies may include, but are not limited to, weather related, involve utilities, fire, flooding, transportation, situations where local civil authorities require a full or partial campus closure or any other kind of incident.

Employee is any faculty member of the University at Albany or staff employed by the University at Albany or its affiliated entities and its subcontractors who are issued University at Albany identification cards.

Essential Employee is a University Employee (state payroll, RFSUNY payroll, University affiliate and their vendors payroll) who is required to report to a designated work location(s), or to a remote/alternate work location(s), to ensure the operation of essential services during an emergency or when the University has closed or curtailed operations. Volunteers cannot be designated as essential under this policy.

Essential Services may include, but are not limited to, campus safety, operations and maintenance, snow and ice removal, bus and transportation, continuity of information technology, animal care, laboratory operations, food services, certain skilled trades and other vendors.

Remote Instruction Plan is the University’s comprehensive plan that is activated for various offices on Campus, to shift to remote work/teaching if circumstances allow. Usually, a shift in remote work/teaching occurs during a weather-related or other Emergency.

UAlbany Alert is the University’s official platform to communicate emergencies to the University community-including weather-related delays and closures. UAlbany Alerts are delivered via text message, voicemail, and email.

University is the State University of New York, University at Albany.


  1. Essential Employees
    1. Generally, Essential Employees include, but are not limited to, those in the following departments and offices:
      1. University Police Department;
      2. Physical Plant, including power plant, shops, grounds, mechanical repair, vehicle operations, custodial, downtown, academic zones, dormitory zone, Empire Commons, Liberty Terrace;
      3. Environmental Health and Safety;
      4. Parking and Mass Transit Services;
      5. Vendors providing Essential Services who are contractually obligated to provide these services to the University, i.e. dining services.
    2. Student presence and the nature of an Emergency will determine which Essential Employees are required to report to their designated work location(s) or to a remote/alternate work location(s) during an Emergency or other University curtailment of operations. 
    3. Absent instructions to the contrary, an Essential Employee is required to report for work during any Emergency closure or curtailment of operations. When an announcement is made that only Essential Employees are expected to report to work, Essential Employees should make every effort to get to, or stay at, their designated work location.
    4. Each department or unit may outline procedures for Essential Employees to follow (e.g., calling designated supervisor, checking email, etc.) to determine whether they are required to report to work to Campus (or at a remote/alternate work location) based upon the nature of a given Emergency.
  2. Essential Employee Designation Notices
    1. Deans and Vice Presidents or their designees are responsible for providing written notice and annual reminder notices to each Employee in their division, department, or school who is designated as an Essential Employee. (Copy of letter attached)
    2. Upon initial designation and annually thereafter at the start of each (academic or calendar year) each Dean and Vice President will provide Human Resources with a list of Employees designated as Essential Employees. 
    3. Essential Employees are required to enroll in NY-Alert for text, voice, and e-mail notifications. Enrollment is available through the MyUAlbany homepage and choosing the “UAlbany Alert” option under the self-service section. Sign up information may be found under the University Policies, Guidelines and Procedures.
  3. University Closure or Curtailment of Operations
    1. State offices and other state facilities, including SUNY campuses, may only be closed by order of the Governor of New York State.
    2. Declarations of a state of Emergency/road closures are not equivalent to the closure of the University.
    3. Given the necessity to provide critical services regardless of weather or other conditions, Essential Employees should develop alternatives in the event their primary method of travel is affected.
    4. Official notice of Campus closure or curtailment of operations shall be provided through the University website ( and the UAlbany Alert system Additional information can be found on and through the University’s Emergency information phone line 518-442-7669.