Modified Operations Policy & Procedure
Applies to: All University employees
It is the policy of the University to remain open at all times. Emergency situations may arise that force the University to modify operations/services for a period of time. The University as a whole, however, never closes.
The decision to move to modified operations, that primarily affect students, faculty, and staff at the East Lansing campus1, shall be made by the President or authorized designee. The President will be advised by individuals with appropriate background and experience given each unique set of circumstances that may arise, always to include the MSU Chief of Police.
Colleges, departments, schools, and other campus units will not move to modified operations on their own. Deans, Directors and other heads of operations must receive authorization from the President or authorized designee before moving to modified operations under the terms of this Policy & Procedure.
Moving to modified operations means there is an official temporary suspension or delay of some or all designated university operations and events due to severe weather, major utility failure, or other unusual circumstances which may endanger students and/or employees or are otherwise unsuitable for the continuation of normal operations. Functions designated as essential under a department’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) will continue and critical employees with essential functions must report to work. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to communicate to their employees when questions arise regarding their status as a critical employee.
Business Continuity Plans (BCP)
Each individual department shall have a BCP. The BCP must detail the department’s essential functions, critical employees performing essential functions, emergency contact information for employees, emergency communication plans and any other information required for the department to function during an emergency or modified operations period.
- Each department must review and drill its BCP annually with all employees and make this part of the onboarding process for new employees.
- In October of every year, a memo will be sent to all Deans, Directors, Chairs, and Executive Managers asking for the review and submission of individual unit BCPs. The respective college or major administrative unit (MAU) is responsible for coordinating and ensuring completion of this task and submission to central administration by November 1 of each year.
Note: The Business Continuity Plan, required for every department on campus and updated annually, is different than the Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) required of 17 units on campus as part of MSU’s Emergency Operations Plan. For those 17 units, their BCP likely will be very similar to their COOP. The BCP is a condensed version that every unit on campus must have to ensure business can continue during modified operations, whether caused by an emergency or not.
If a decision is made to move to modified operations, University Communications will notify local news outlets and will place messages on the University’s homepage www.msu.edu and on various social media networks. The Michigan State University Police Department will issue an Emergency Notification message. In the absence of a specific announcement to the contrary, all classes, operations, and other functions continue as normally scheduled.
Reporting for Work
Critical Employees: employees designated as critical with essential functions under a department’s BCP must report to work during modified operations. Supervisors may also designate additional employees as critical due to the needs of the unit; for example, the need to complete a specific project or address other important matters2. Designations may be made before, at the start of, or during modified operations. Additionally:
- In all cases, supervisors are responsible for informing employees that they have been designated as critical in a timely manner. Units and supervisors should establish reliable means of communication with employees as part of their BCP. Depending on the nature of their work, critical employees may be required to report to work at their designated work location or may be allowed to work from home. Working remotely in lieu of in-person must be approved by the critical employee’s supervisor or authorized designee.
- Employees are responsible for monitoring communication for return to work notifications and any information concerning changes to their designation as critical or non-critical.
- Non-Critical Employees: non-critical employees should not work during a period of modified operations. Employees who work despite being designated as non-critical, and/or despite instructions to the contrary from their supervisors, may be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge3.
- Faculty and Academic Staff: faculty and academic staff deemed non-critical may use their professional judgement in deciding to engage in work during periods of modified operations, so long as they do not interfere with emergency operations4.
Summary of Various Operation Statuses
|Classes & Campus Operations Conducted as Usual||
All employees expected to report to work as usual.*
All employees expected to report to work as usual.*
Classes are canceled and non-essential operations are suspended. Only critical employees with essential functions as designated by their supervisor and/or as defined in the department’s BCP should report to work at their campus work location.
*Although the University is open during periods of adverse conditions, supervisors may alter work schedules to make allowances for unique travel problems. Employees are advised to use discretion and caution regarding their health and safety. Employees must still account for their normal workday by working or taking vacation leave.
Procedure: Compensation and Time Instructions During Modified Operations for Support Staff
|Type of Employee||Status during Modified Operations||Compensation||
Instructions to Time Administrators
|Critical Employee||Reported to work||
|Critical Employee||Did not report to work||
|Non-critical Employees||Should not work||
On-Call employees and student employees that are critical will be paid for hours actually worked. These employees are not entitled to equivalent time off.
For employees who had previously scheduled time off prior to the modified operations (e.g. vacation or personal time), time administrators should not charge against the employee's vacation/personal balance.
Employees whose normal days off come during modified operations are not entitled to equivalent time off or additional pay.
Employees who have regularly established telecommuting arrangements should follow the same procedure as other employees based upon whether they have been deemed as a critical or non-critical employee either through the unit’s BCP or specifically designated as critical by their supervisor during the emergency.
Faculty and academic staff may use their professional judgement in deciding to engage in work that does not interfere with emergency operations during periods of modified operations.
Questions on how to properly record and enter time in the HR/Payroll system should be directed to the Payroll Office at 517-355-5020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about university policies and rules should be directed to the Office of Employee Relations at 517-353-5510 or email@example.com.
First Issued: November 2019
It is acknowledged that conditions that result in Modified Operations for the East Lansing campus may not be applicable to all MSU property and functions. Modified Operations communication plans will be location specific.
While all MSU employees are critical, the Modified Operations policy is intended to clarify who should work to maintain human and animal life as well as critical services and infrastructure functions. These employees are critical with essential functions.
Non-critical employees may interfere with emergency operations. See text re faculty and academic staff
For example, faculty members not deemed critical employees are certainly free to engage in research, instruction (e.g. online activities), and other service related activities, so long as they do not interfere with emergency operations (e.g. working remotely).
Units must determine appropriate staffing levels which includes considerations for unplanned overtime and comptime that may result in a negative impact on the budget and/or operations.