Essential Personnel FAQ

What does Essential Personnel mean?

Per USF Policy 6-037, during emergencies, disasters, or other events as deemed appropriate by the USF President or designee, critical operations and certain function at University of South Florida (USF) campuses and locations must be supported, maintained, or recovered to allow for continuity of operations. In order to provide for the safety and well-being of the campus community and to continue critical operations, certain designated employees will need to report to work during an emergency event. An essential employee is an employee who is essential to the operation of the university, whose absence would adversely affect the health and safety of the campus community or the viability of campus facilities and/or critical infrastructure, as determined by the employee's department.

How do I know if I'm considered Essential Personnel?

The Vice President, Deans, and Directors or their designees of the college, division, or department will identify personnel that are deemed to be essential personnel in accordance with the USF Policy 6-037. Your supervisor will notify you if you are part of this group and are required to come to work during an emergency closing. Faculty appointed as Essential Personnel must be approved by the Provost's Office.

Do I have to complete any training if I am designated as Essential Personnel?

Yes. The training requirements can be found on the Essential Personnel page.

Who decides if the university will close for a storm or emergency?

The USF President has the authority to determine if the university needs to close for emergency circumstances, like a hurricane. There may be times when the USF President will authorize that some, but not all, of the USF campuses will close, so please pay careful attention to which locations may remain open.

Where should I go to find out if the university will close?

Employees may visit the main USF Home Page,, to get current emergency-related information. 

Who should be on campus during an emergency closing?

Only employees who have been identified as Essential Personnel should report to work when the campus and its business operations are officially closed. For safety and accountability, the University must know who is on campus and their locations during an emergency closing. It is critical that all non-essential personnel do not report when the University is officially closed, unless requested to do so. However, if non-essential personnel work during an emergency closing, they will be paid regular time for the hours worked.

If the university has closed for an emergency, will I get paid?

The following guidelines will determine if you are paid for an emergency closing:

  • Special compensatory leave is provided to Staff and non-exempt Administration employees required to perform essential duties during an emergency closing for the hours worked during the closing.
  • Special compensatory leave is provided to Staff and non-exempt Administration employees required to perform essential duties for hours worked outside of their normal work schedule to prepare for or respond to a declared University emergency, as determined by the Chief Administrative Officer or designee.
  • Staff and non-exempt Administration employees earning special compensatory leave may be paid out at the discretion of the department or require the employee to take time off at a later date.
  • Staff and non-exempt Administration employees earning overtime compensatory leave shall receive cash payment for overtime hours worked.
  • Employees that are not required to work during an emergency closing are granted administrative leave in an amount equal to the number of hours scheduled to work during the closing or in an amount necessary to bring them up to their normal hours for the workweek.
  • Salaried Temporary employees will receive their regular pay.
  • Employees already on a leave of absence, with or without pay, will not be allowed to have the leave of absence changed to administrative leave to cover the absence.
  • An employee who had an unauthorized absence the day before the emergency closing will continue to remain on unauthorized leave on the day(s) in which the university was closed.
  • Hourly Temporary employees will not receive paid leave time during an emergency closing, but if the workload permits it, a supervisor may adjust an employee's schedule during the affected pay period to allow the employee to work additional hours in the workweek.

What happens if USF is open but I can't come to work because I live in an evacuation zone or have to stay home with my children whose school was closed?

The University understands that circumstances like an evacuation or school closing may impact your ability to come to work during a storm situation. Although the University monitors school closings, we cannot guarantee that USF will close its business operations, even if other schools close. For extenuating circumstances such as these, you may request to use your annual leave to cover your absence.

When should I return to work, and what time should I arrive?

The USF web site and media sources will provide you with updates on how long the university will be closed. On the day the University reopens, you should report to work at the time you would normally start your shift. If the University opens later than the start of your scheduled start time, you should report to work as soon as the University reopens.

I am designated as essential personnel but cannot report to work during the emergency closing. Will I be required to use leave?

Per the Essential Personnel Policy, the employee must contact their supervisor as soon as possible if they are not able to report to work. Failure to report to work during an emergency event may result in disciplinary action, where appropriate. Each situation will need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis should an employee not be able and/or willing to report to work. Human Resources will assist with any corrective actions that will need to occur to address these situations.

I work a 4 day work week, 10 hours each day. How many hours of administrative leave do I get for an emergency closing, 8 hours or 10 hours?

You would receive up to 10 hours of administrative leave, which is equal to the number of hours in your regular workday, not to exceed your appointed hours in a workweek.

I am designated to be on-call. Will I continue to receive on-call pay during the closing?

Yes, unless your supervisor advised you in writing prior to the emergency closing that you were not on-call during the closing.

When I am on-call during an emergency closing, which rate do I receive?

If the closing is on a regular workday, then your on-call rate is the one for the workday. However, if the closing is on a holiday or the weekend, your on-call rate would be the one specified for holiday/weekend.

Are faculty considered essential personnel?

Appointment as essential personnel in Academic Affairs at USF requires the approval of Vice Provost Jim Garey and is typically limited to one person per science/engineering department with a presence in each building. A Dean, Director, or Chair can work with Vice Provost Garey to determine who should be essential personnel, but may not designate people as essential personnel without approval.

What is the role of Academic Affairs in emergencies?

Enter toggled The role of essential personnel within Academic Affairs is to come to USF after an emergency event such as a major hurricane and help the USF Emergency Operations Center team assess damage in laboratory buildings. They would be contacted by the Provost's Office or by the USF Emergency Operations Center team when needed to help with the assessment.content here.

Can I continue laboratory operations during an emergency closing?

Personnel are not authorized to run experiments, run laboratories, nor “ride out the storm” on campus during emergency closures of USF. Designation as essential personnel is not a license to remain at USF to continue experiments, ride out a storm or related purposes. It is solely to help the USF Emergency Operations Center team assess damage in laboratory buildings and report back to their departments/colleges. The reopening of laboratories following an emergency event is authorized by the USF President in collaboration with the USF Emergency Operations Center team.

What do I do with the laminated letter I received?

The Essential Personnel Identification Letter is used solely for travel to and from work during times when a curfew or road closures may be imposed by the County. This letter and your USF ID card will need to be shown to law enforcement officials that are maintaining the restrictions so that they know you are travelling for work. This letter does not provide you access to buildings or any other access.