Disaster Leave

Disaster leave provides employees with job protection and, when applicable, continued pay and benefits over a designated period of time in concert with a “declaration of emergency” issued by the President or President’s designee. Disaster leave can only be granted during such a declaration of emergency, may or may not extend throughout the entire period of emergency, applies to any category of university employee, and may only be provided at the direction of the President/designee. Eligibility for disaster leave is solely at the discretion of the President/designee and is not an entitlement.

In the event of a disaster, existing university policy may be superseded, suspended or changed at the discretion of authorized policy issuers (e.g., vacation, sick, personal leaves).

The nature of the disaster, extent of damage, regions affected, duration of crisis, university properties impacted, financial impact to the university, business continuity requirements and funding requirements will all be considered when deciding whether to grant disaster leave, who will be eligible, the amount of pay provided under the leave, and the duration of leave provided.

Employee deployment

Taking into consideration safety and security issues, employees will be deployed so as to restore regular business operations as soon as possible (including but not limited to duties necessary for the university to continue or reestablish teaching, research and patient care activities). Available work will be assigned first to qualified benefits-eligible faculty and staff, ahead of assignments provided to part-time employees (including resource, per diem and student employees), employees of temporary employment agencies and independent contractors.

Employees who cannot be assigned to their regular duties or department may be assigned to perform other duties for which they are qualified, and/or assigned to work in other departments as needed. If a regular worksite is not available, the university may identify and require employees to work in alternative locations (including telecommuting) or on alternative work schedules.

Employees who are required to work will be paid their regular salary/wage and are not eligible for disaster leave.

Employees who refuse a work assignment are not eligible for disaster leave unless a bona fide reason for the refusal exists. Such determination will be made by employee’s manager.

Employees funded by contracts and grants may not be eligible due to requirements of and restrictions placed on grant or contract funding and the lack of availability of alternative funding.

Employees who are unable to report to work or who are instructed not to report due to a declaration of emergency may request disaster leave under terms, conditions, qualifications and restrictions provided at the time it is announced that disaster leave may be granted. Under disaster leave, eligible employees will be paid 100% of their base/core compensation for regularly scheduled hours/effort from department funds for the first week under the “declaration of emergency.” The President/designee will subsequently determine on a weekly basis whether and for how long disaster leave will continue, any changes in eligibility requirements or changes in compensation or benefits provided.


The President/designee, in consultation with university officers and senior executives, will determine:

  • When disaster leave will be granted and the duration of the leave
  • Who is eligible for disaster leave
  • If and when other university policies are superseded
  • Disaster leave eligibility and compensation and benefit options beyond the first week, on a weekly basis
  • Employment status of all employees as disaster progresses (e.g., active, furloughed, laid off)
  • Communications to administrators, emergency coordinators, human resource administrators and partners, employees, students and others in the university community regarding the “declaration of emergency,” requirements for response and business continuity

Human Resources Administration will:

  • Consult with the university Crisis Management Team on workforce deployment needs and eligibility for and the specific terms of the disaster leave policy; assist with implementation
  • Collaborate with HRIS and University Payroll Services to ensure employees are paid appropriately for hours or effort worked as well as pay under applicable leaves, including disaster leave as announced
  • Collaborate with Benefits Administration, Health Plans, Retirement Administration, Fringe Benefits Accounting and other USC plan administrators to ensure that employee benefits continue under the terms and conditions of the disaster leave as announced
  • Communicate the terms and conditions of the disaster leave to HR Partners, administrators, and employees; coordinate handling and documentation of any required responses
  • Escalate issues to the President, officers and senior executives as appropriate

HR Partners and Deans of Faculty will:

  • Identify those eligible for disaster leave based on instructions provided by the President/designee and relayed by Human Resources Administration
  • Ensure disaster leave is entered in Workday (or approved alternative recordkeeping system) for eligible employees
  • Communicate to employees regarding this and other relevant policies; coordinate handling and documentation of any required responses
  • Escalate issues to Human Resources Administration as appropriate


  • All essential personnel must report for disaster recovery assignments as directed according to their department disaster recovery plan
  • Employees not described under the department disaster recovery plan as “essential personnel” may be required at any time to report for disaster recovery assignments
  • Eligible employees who qualify for disaster leave may be required to formally request leave in Workday or by other acceptable means of requesting and receiving confirmation from their manager or manager’s designee (ideally in writing)
  • Throughout the duration of the disaster recovery efforts, whether deployed or on disaster leave, employees must regularly apprise themselves of the university’s and their school/department’s operational status, maintain regular contact with their manager or other designated department representative, and provide the university with up-to-date contact information for any temporary changes in address (e.g., update personal contact information in Workday)

Issued by

Michael Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California