Essential Staff, Campus Closings, and Early Release Policies
Provided by: Department of Human Resources
Related Links and Resources
This policy applies to any at-will, limited term, temporary or other staff member except those employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Employees working under collective bargaining agreements should refer to CBA guidelines.
Overview of Campus Life, On-Site and Remote Working
The university’s flexible work policies provide, where possible, alternative work schedules outside of the standard core work hours within the department, school, or division, as well as remote work at locations other than the department location on campus. All work arrangements are determined first by job code, then the scope of work and the business needs of the department, division, or school, as defined by their leadership team.
With this new framework of remote and flexible working options for many faculty and staff at Tufts, the emergency closing and early release policies were changed to recalibrate to this new work environment where the university will rarely experience a full closing. In the context of flexible work, there are those services and programs that can be executed by employees who can work partially or remotely (or away from Tufts’ properties). This policy is intended to outline those changes and to answer questions about partial- or full-university closings specifically in reference to essential service areas, work expectations and pay practices.
Employees Working in Essential Service Areas
The nature of the university's activities and the complexity of operations always require that certain services be provided. Essential services include but are not limited to animal farms and hospitals, patient care areas, areas conducting critical research, Facility Services, Tufts Technology Services, Tufts Support Services, Dining Services and Public Safety units. Essential employees are advised beforehand regarding their obligations to work during emergencies. Essential employees are also made aware of established procedures to inform them whether they will be needed to work. Employees in essential service areas who do not report to work during emergencies may be subject to disciplinary action, to the extent permitted by applicable law.
If you are designated as part of an essential service group performing essential services you are excused from work only with the specific authorization of your supervisors, regardless of other announcements or as otherwise required by applicable law.
Supervisors will inform you:
- If you are in an essential service position, on-campus or can be redeployed on campus; and,
- Under the new virtual workplace guidelines, unless communicated otherwise, you, whether designated as salaried/exempt or hourly/non-exempt, you are expected to work remotely to perform your regular work or be redeployed to other assignments on days of division/school closings or in early release or reduced staffing schedules.
Employees Working in Non-Essential Service-Areas
In the event of a university closure, all non-exempt and exempt employees are expected to work remotely in order to maintain unit productivity or to prepare for reopening. If you are non-exempt/hourly, you will work remotely unless otherwise notified that you must report to on-campus assignments under your designation as “essential employee” (see above section on “Employees Working in Essential Service Areas” above.
Early releases are rare but may occur, for example, when weather conditions create hazardous conditions. Early releases are declared by the Executive Vice President. The decision may be University-wide or campus- or building-specific. A decision to announce an early release will be communicated to the appropriate individuals and areas of the University. When early releases have been authorized classes, scheduled events, and all related activities must then be made available virtually. Where the required business or service can be provided by reduced staff, your supervisor will provide information about the early release work schedule.
If you are released early you will be paid for your scheduled hours, and employees who are required to work will be paid their regular wages. If you call in sick or take a vacation/personal day on an early release day, you are still charged the sick/vacation/personal time for that day. Likewise, if you scheduled a vacation/personal day and an early release occurs, you will still be charged for the vacation/personal day.
Employees working under collective bargaining agreements should refer to CBA guidelines.
If you are a non-exempt/hourly employee designated as an essential worker who is required to work on campus during a closure you will be compensated at time and one-half for hours worked on that day. In addition, you will receive either another day off in the same pay week (Sunday to Saturday) or a day's pay at the normal rate. If no other day off occurs during the same workweek, you will be paid 2.5 times your hourly rate in that circumstance.
Where to Find Situation or Event-based Updates and Information
Information about the impact of winter weather on our campuses is provided via: TuftsAlerts; Tufts Announcements; emails to all faculty, staff, and students; and university social media. This information is also available on the home page of Tufts.edu and via the Tufts Information Line (617.627.INFO (4636) for Medford and Boston or 508.839.6124 for the Grafton).