Staff Handbook: General Policies and Guidelines

Access to Employee Personnel Files

Staff salaries, personnel data, and all aspects of University affairs that have not been released as public information are confidential. If you are an active staff member and wish to review your personnel file, you should refer to ER 01 Access to Employee Personnel Files (formerly 07-06-05). If you believe that there is an error in the record, a statement to that effect may be added as a part of the permanent file. You may also request that your department process the appropriate forms to initiate corrections. You should make arrangements through your departmental administrator if you wish to review your departmental personnel file.

Alcoholic Beverages

All University staff members must fully comply with all laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including those regarding the possession and consumption of alcohol on University property. The following are specific provisions:

  • No one may provide alcohol to a person under the age of 21 or to anyone visibly intoxicated.
  • No one may permit the possession or consumption of alcohol by a person under the age of 21 or by anyone visibly intoxicated.
  • No one under the age of 21 may occupy licensed premises where alcohol is served, unless under supervision.
  • No one under the age of 18 may dispense alcoholic beverages.

At any University function, the host is the most senior official present from the school, department, or other segment of the University sponsoring the function. The host is responsible for ensuring that Pennsylvania law relating to alcoholic beverages is strictly observed and is responsible for compliance with these guidelines. If you are over the age of 21, you may consume alcoholic beverages (in compliance with Pennsylvania law) at official University functions on campus. However, consumption of alcohol, intoxication, or the misuse of alcohol while on the job is prohibited.

Violation of the above is a serious infraction and will result in corrective action.


You are expected to report to work regularly and on time. In those instances when you cannot avoid being late for work or are unable to work as scheduled, you must notify your departmental administrator within the first hour of the workday, barring extenuating circumstances that make such notification impossible or extremely difficult. Poor attendance and/or excessive tardiness may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Review ER 18 Time Records/Attendance/Overtime and Compensatory Time (formerly 07-04-01).

Computer Access and Use

University-owned computing equipment, networks, services, and resources, including electronic mail (collectively referred to as the “system”) are provided for the purpose of conducting University-related activities and may be used only by:

  • Faculty, staff, and students for recognized instructional, research, or administrative purposes within the University.
  • Organizations whose use of such services is for a University-sponsored or recognized public service. For purposes of administering this policy, such classification will apply only if the organization has been designated as federally tax-exempt under the Federal Internal Revenue Code and the use of such services is approved by Computing Services and Systems Development.
  • Faculty and staff under professional consulting arrangements provided: (1) an application for services is approved by Computing Services and Systems Development and an external account is established, and (2) a formal contractual arrangement is entered into with Computing Services and Systems Development.

Use of computer services for any commercial purpose, partisan political purpose, or any unlawful purpose or use that infringes on the rights of others, including privacy, ownership, and equitable access to computing resources, is prohibited. Computer software and other intellectual property protected by copyright may not be copied from, into, or by University computing facilities, except as permitted by law, or by contract with the copyright owner. Departments that purchase software protected by a copyright are responsible for the protection of that copyright.

Electronic communication facilities such as email facilities or World Wide Web servers may be used only for University-related activities. Fraudulent, harassing, or obscene messages may not be sent or stored. The University retains the ability to access all data on the system for all lawful purposes, including managing the system, protecting the security of the system, investigating incidents involving the use of the system, and ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws and University policies.

Willfully exceeding the limits of authorization, damaging, modifying, altering, destroying, copying, disclosing, or taking possession of a computer, computer system, computer network, or any other University computing facility or gaining unauthorized access to any software, program, documentation, data, or property contained in any computer, computer system, or computer network will result in disciplinary action. The unauthorized downloading or transferring of copyrighted materials, including movies, video games, software, and music, is not permitted and may subject the user to University disciplinary action and civil and criminal penalties.

For additional information about University computing policies, refer to AO 10 Computer Access and Use (formerly 10-02-05).

Please visit the Information Technology website for information about University computing services and policies, including the Computing Ethics and Guidelines document.

Conflict of Interest

The University must be able to have trust and confidence in you, and you must at all times act in good faith with due regard for the best interests of the University. A potential or actual conflict of interest arises if and when a financial or other personal interest unduly influences your commitments and obligations to the University. Not all conflicting interests are prohibited. You must, however, at least disclose to the University administration actual or proposed transactions with the University to which you (or an immediate family member) are a party or with an organization in which you (or an immediate family member) have a financial interest. Your disclosure obligations and procedures are spelled out in ER 02 Conflict of Interest for Designated Administrators and Staff (formerly 07-05-02) and ER 03 Conflict of Interest for University of Pittsburgh Employees (formerly 07-05-03).

Withdrawal from Decisions

Staff shall not exercise University decision-making authority or exert influence concerning any organization or transaction in which they have a personal interest.

Misuse of Information

No staff member shall, for personal gain or for the gain of others, use any information not available to the public that was obtained as a result of service to the University. No staff member shall personally exploit any business opportunity in which the staff member knows or reasonably should know the University is or would be interested, unless the University first consents thereto in writing.

Gifts and Favors

No staff member shall solicit or accept for personal use, or for the use of others, any gift, favor, loan, gratuity, reward, promise of future employment, or any other thing of monetary value that might influence or appear to influence the judgment or conduct of the staff member vis-à-vis University business. Staff members may accept occasional unsolicited courtesy gifts or favors (such as business lunches, tickets to baseball games, or Christmas baskets) so long as the gifts or favors have a market value under $200, are customary in the industry, and will not influence or appear to influence the judgment or conduct of the staff member vis-à-vis University business. The supervisor may exempt a staff member from the restrictions in this paragraph as to a specified gift or favor. The exemption shall be in writing with a statement of the basis therefore. Individual administrative units within the University may impose further restrictions on gifts or favors for staff members within the unit.

Reporting Suspected Violations

An allegation of violation of the University’s Conflict of Interest Policy and the basis for the allegation shall be communicated, confidentially and preferably (but not necessarily) in writing, to an administrator in the supervisory line of the alleged violator or, if that would be problematic, to the Internal Audit Department, the Office of General Counsel, or the Conflict of Interest Office. Measures shall be taken to ensure that no adverse action is taken, either directly or indirectly, against a complainant who makes allegations in good faith.

Additional Disclosure Requirements for Certain Employees

University administrators and staff who have been designated by the Conflict of Interest Committee are subject to the more specific provisions of ER 02 Conflict of Interest for Designated Administrators and Staff (formerly 07-05-02). University faculty, researchers, and administrative employees who can materially influence research are also subject to the more specific provisions of RI 01 Conflict of Interest Policy for Research (formerly 11-01-03).

Confidentiality of Medical Information

Medical information about individual staff members is to be treated confidentially. The University will take reasonable precautions to protect such information from inappropriate disclosure. Any staff member who has legitimate access has a responsibility to respect and maintain the confidentiality of that medical information.

Copyrights and Photocopying

University copyright policies provide for copyright ownership in works authored by staff members and for allocation of royalty income (RI 03 Copyrights (formerly 11-02-02)) and outline federal legal restrictions on reproducing copyrighted material (CS 03 Copying Copyrighted Material (formerly 10-04-01)).

Defense and Indemnification of Staff

The University will furnish each current and former staff member of the University (except as may be prohibited by law) with legal defense and payment of judgments, fines, penalties, settlements, and any other expenses actually and reasonably incurred in connection with an actual or threatened action suit or other legal proceeding (civil, criminal, administrative, or investigative) brought against such staff member by reason of being or having been a staff member of the University, or by reason of serving or having served the University as a member of or representative to a committee, board, or other entity outside the University, so long as the staff member’s actions or omissions were within the scope of his or her University duties or authority, were in good faith and in a manner reasonably believed to be lawful and in the University’s best interest, and the acts or omissions did not constitute willful misconduct, gross negligence, or recklessness.

For the complete policy and procedure, which include important conditions, limitations, and requirements not set out in the above summary, review AO 20 Faculty and Staff Indemnification (formerly 07-06-06) or contact the Office of General Counsel at 412-624-5674.

Disabilities Resources and Services

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment practices. The ADA also requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, so long as it does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Requesting an Accommodation

Employees or applicants who believe that they have a disability necessitating an accommodation should contact their supervisor, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (412-648-7860) or the Office of Disability Resources and Services (412-648-7890). It is the responsibility of the employee with a disability to self-identify and inform the University that an accommodation is requested. Documentation of the disability will be required (Review the Code of Conduct & Event Guidelines). Requests for reasonable accommodations will be determined by management on a case-by-case basis involving a cooperative effort among the employee, the supervisor, and Disability Resources, with due consideration of the documentation that has been submitted.

Reasonable Accommodation

A reasonable accommodation can be a change or adjustment to a job or work environment that affords an employee with a disability the opportunity to perform the essential functions of the job. If a reasonable accommodation is required, an employer must provide an effective reasonable accommodation, but not necessarily the particular accommodation preferred or requested by the employee.

Essential Functions

Essential job functions are those duties that an employee must be able to perform in the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

Services to Faculty and Staff with Disabilities

Visit the Disability Resources and Services website.

Donations and Solicitations

The United Way campaign and Pitt Internal Campaign (PIC) are University-sanctioned solicitation drives. Contributions to Pitt’s Internal Campaign enhance the dimension and quality of University programs and support the academic excellence of the institution. Payroll deductions may be used to make contributions to these campaigns. However, participation decisions are strictly personal, and lack of participation shall not be held against you.

In addition each April the University joins more than 400 other Pittsburgh companies, universities, and agencies to collect canned goods and household items for distribution to needy local residents through the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This drive is called Pitt’s Partnership for Food.

In an effort to ensure a productive and harmonious work environment, persons not employed by the University may not solicit donations or distribute literature in the workplace at any time, for any purpose. You may have interests in events and organizations outside the workplace. However, you may not solicit donations or distribute literature concerning these activities during working time. In addition, the posting of written solicitations on University bulletin boards is restricted. If you have a message that you think might be of interest to the workplace, you may submit it to the Office of Human Resources for approval.

Drug-Free Workplace/Drug-Free Schools Policy

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace and prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance on University property or as part of any University activity. If your salary is paid from federally funded grants or contracts, you must notify the University through your supervisor of any criminal drug statute conviction or a violation occurring in the workplace no later than five days after such conviction. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action including but not limited to a warning, written reprimand, suspension (with or without pay), dismissal, and/or mandatory participation in and successful completion of a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program approved by an appropriate health or law enforcement agency. Faculty, staff, and students of the University must also comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the possession and consumption of alcohol. Review the notice.

Contact the Office of Human Resources for a copy of the complete Drug-Free Workplace/Drug-Free Schools Policy and review CS 04 Drug-Free Workplace/Drug-Free Schools (formerly 06-02-01).

Employment Applications

The University relies upon the accuracy of information contained in the employment application as well as the accuracy of other data presented throughout the hiring process and employment. Any misrepresentations, falsifications, or material omissions in any of this information or data may result in the University’s exclusion of the individual from further consideration for employment or, if the person has been hired, termination of employment.

Employment—Proof of U.S. Citizenship and/or Right to Work

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires that American employers hire only American citizens and aliens who are authorized to work in the United States. In compliance with this Act and University policy, the University requires that all new staff members submit to the Office of Human Resources appropriate documents attesting to identity and employment eligibility and complete Form I-9 prior to or within the first three days of work. This form and copies of the documents provided by the staff member will be processed by the Office of Human Resources and then filed in the staff member’s file. Review ER 08 Employment Eligibility Verification: I-9 (formerly 07-01-04).

Employment of Relatives (Nepotism)

The University strives to employ the most qualified individuals available for all positions. The University does not consider family relationship a disqualifying factor for employment, but special consideration will not be given to relatives of current employees. Efforts by employees to exert any influence to help relatives secure positions at the University are considered improper. Employment depends exclusively on the applicant’s qualifications and suitability for the position.

The employment of relatives in the same area of the University may cause conflicts and problems, real or perceived. A relative is any person who is related by blood or marriage or whose relationship with the staff member is similar to that of persons who are related by blood or marriage. Although the University has no absolute prohibition against hiring relatives of existing staff members, an administrator is not permitted to employ his or her own relatives, and a relative may not be the only approval authority on the relative’s employee actions. If a situation occurs where a departmental administrator would be required to supervise a relative, one or the other must obtain a transfer from that area or resign their position within 60 working days.

The University reserves the right to monitor situations in which relatives work in the same area. In case of actual or potential problems, the University may take prompt action, including reassignment or, if necessary, termination of employment for one or both of the individuals involved. In the event that more than one member of a family is employed by the University, family members may not intercede on behalf of relatives in any matters concerning employment, including salary, working conditions, or job performance. Review ER 02 Conflict of Interest for Designated Administrators and Staff (formerly 07-05-02).

Environmental Health and Safety

The University is committed to the health and safety of all staff members and to protecting and enhancing the environment. The University administration and staff share responsibility in achieving a safe and healthful work environment

Safety and health programs are described in the University’s Health and Safety Manuals and on the Environmental Health and Safety website. These programs are designed as a supplement to the rules, regulations, standards, and codes applicable to the diverse operations of the University. Each work area should provide access to the Department of Environmental Health and Safety website or have copies of safety procedures available for your review and reference. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety maintains active programs in hazardous waste management, biosafety, fire safety, laser safety, and chemical hygiene.

You should review the University safety, health, and environment-related resources to determine needs for required instruction, personal protective equipment, and hazard communications.

Questions or inquiries should be directed to the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 412-624-9505 or answered by accessing the Department of Environmental Health and Safety website.

You are encouraged to discuss health and safety programs with your supervisor and to read and understand the available University guidance documents. The dangers to staff members and others that could result from disregard of prudent practices or the recommendations of the University’s programs may be grounds for disciplinary action.

Financial Obligations

The University will not employ an individual who is in default of any type of financial obligation to the University without a written agreement to fulfill the financial obligation within a specified period of time. You are subject to dismissal if you are in default of a financial obligation to the University unless satisfactory repayment arrangements are made and fulfilled.

Hours of Work

Normal University business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You receive one unpaid hour for lunch. For pay purposes, the pay week begins at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and ends at midnight the following Saturday. Departmental administrators may vary these schedules to accommodate business needs. In all cases, the standard work week is 37.5 hours per week.

Legal Services for University Business

The University’s Legal Services Policy spells out the circumstances under which you should or must consult the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of University Counsel attorneys in connection with University business.

For further information and specific details, review AO 22 Legal Services (formerly 01-05-01).

News Services

University Communications and Marketing handles contacts and relations with local, regional, national, international, and University print and electronic media on behalf of the University administration and all schools, departments, and centers not covered by the health sciences or sports information bureaus. The news unit works with faculty, staff, and administrators in planning and implementing programs to inform various external and internal audiences of news about, and events taking place at, the University of Pittsburgh. The department produces Pitt Magazine, Pitt Med magazine, University Times, and Pittwire. All requests for News Services should be directed to 412-624-4361.

Organization Development Consulting Services

The Organization Development department of the Office of Human Resources serves as a partner with our University community clients to help them create and realize their strategic plans, achieve greater levels of effectiveness, develop effective support systems, and help their staff attain higher levels of performance and demonstrate consistent positive change in the workplace. We do this by providing comprehensive consulting along with high-quality products, services, and results-based solutions. Departments and schools may request assistance with any of these organizational issues.

The Organization Development consulting team works with the University schools and departments to achieve greater efficiencies in work processes and increase effectiveness and productivity among faculty and/or staff. Products and services offered include strategic planning sessions to develop or clarify vision, mission, values, and goals; organization analysis; work redesign; organization restructure; process improvements; performance management; competency identification and modeling; executive coaching; and organization interventions such as customer service, leadership development, team building, and group dynamics. Organization Development also administers the Faculty and Staff Development Program and the Human Resources Development Track for Supervisors.

Outside Work

The University does not prohibit you from performing non-University work outside your regular working hours. However, if the outside work results in a conflict of interest or otherwise interferes with the performance of duties on campus, you may be asked to choose between jobs. In addition, if you are performing non-University work, you may be required to provide information about such work sufficient to permit your departmental administrator to assess any possible conflict of interest. Further, the University prohibits you from performing non-University work while on the job and from using University equipment, including telephones or supplies, for non-University business. The use of the University campus mail system is limited to University business.

Patents and Rights to Inventions, Creations, and Other Intellectual Property

All rights in and to any and all inventions, creations, ideas, techniques, methods, developments, and improvements (“inventions”) that you (either alone or in conjunction with others) conceive, make, reduce to practice, or obtain during employment with the University are the property of the University of Pittsburgh.

In consideration of your employment, you are required to make full and prompt disclosure to the University of all inventions and, at the University’s request and expense, you will at any time or times execute and deliver to the University such foreign and domestic patent applications, assignments, copyrights, and other papers and take such other action (including, without limitation, testifying in any legal proceeding) as the University considers necessary to vest, perfect, defend, or maintain its rights in and to such inventions. The University claims ownership and control of the worldwide patent rights that result from the activity of its faculty, staff, and students.

The University Technology Transfer Committee considers disclosures of inventions by you and determines whether to proceed to obtain a patent. The inventor may receive a portion of the net financial returns from the sale, licensing, or other transfer of patent rights. The current University Policy on Patents and Technology Transfer determines the rights of the inventor and contains a procedure for submitting an invention for the consideration of the University Technology Transfer Committee. Review RI 05 Patent Rights and Technology Transfer (formerly 11-02-01).

Copyrightable works that have been produced by University staff members who have been specifically directed to produce those works in the course of their employment or who produce those works under the supervision and control of the University are “works made for hire.” The copyright interests in those works automatically vest in the University.

Software, other than educational courseware that has been created or developed at least in part on the University’s computer systems, will be proprietary to the University. Other copyrightable materials that have been created using University resources will also be owned by the University. The creator of these works may share in royalties arising out of the license or sale of the works. Such royalty sharing does not apply to works made for hire. Review RI 03 Copyrights (formerly 11-02-02).

Personal Phone Calls and Mail

Personal phone calls should be kept to a minimum. Calls must not interfere with your work, and this privilege should not be abused. The University’s address cannot be used for personal mail, and personal mail cannot be processed through the University’s postage meters.

Personal Use of University Resources and Services

Use of University resources for personal non-University purposes is not permitted. University services and resources include, but are not limited to, photocopiers, local and long-distance telephone and facsimile service, mail service, staff support, supplies, and equipment. Review CS 11 Personal Use of University Resources (formerly 05-08-01).

Pitt Concern Connection

The University of Pittsburgh encourages use of the Pitt Concern Connection, which enables our campus communities to elevate irregular or troublesome workplace issues so that they can be investigated and resolved.

This is a unique reporting system that makes it comfortable and convenient for University members to report concerns via telephone, text message, or by using the online system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Individuals can report issues or ask questions using the system, and can do so at varying levels of anonymity.

Issues that can be reported using the Pitt Concern Connection include:

  • Human resources and work place concerns, including perceived harassment, discrimination, and misconduct
  • Bias incidents, including discrimination, retaliation, sexual misconduct and Title IX-related incidents
  • Research compliance concerns
  • Environmental health and safety concerns
  • Concerns about financial management or use of University assets
  • Other legal/regulatory matters, such as the protection of children while on campus
    Please note that using the Pitt Concern Connection to report suspected child abuse does not fulfill the requirements of mandatory reporters.

The Pitt Concern Connection is not an emergency service.

Immediate, life-threatening safety concerns should be reported to 911 or by contacting your local University police or security department:

Pittsburgh 412-624-2121
Bradford 814-368-3211
Greensburg 724-836-9865
Johnstown 814-269-7005
Titusville 814-827-4488

More information about the Pitt Concern Connection, including answers to frequently asked questions and a link to make a report can be found on the Office of Compliance, Investigations, and Ethics website at

Issues that are best reported in other ways

Many specific workplace issues can be best handled by bringing them to the attention of the workplace manager or supervisor. Problems concerning employee benefits are most readily resolved through the benefits staff in the Office of Human Resources. Pitt Concern Connection is not intended to replace existing compliance hotlines or established grievance procedures. Note that contacting the Pitt Concern Connection does not constitute providing legal notice to the University of Pittsburgh. If you believe the concern is life threatening, call your University police or security department.

Public Office

The University recognizes your right to seek and serve in elected or appointed public office at the municipal, county, state, or federal level as long as such service does not constitute a conflict of interest or interfere with the proper performance of your responsibilities at the University. If seeking or serving in public office interferes with University duties, you must request or may be required to take a leave of absence without pay. Such leaves will be made in accordance with the guidelines found in the Leave of Absence section of this Handbook except that such leaves of absence may not exceed 24 months. If you are unsuccessful in your bid for election, or complete your term of office, you may be reinstated as a member of the University staff in accordance with the terms of the leave.

Radiation Safety

The University is committed to maintaining a safe working environment when using sources of ionizing radiation. The University administration, staff, and students share the responsibility in achieving a safe environment. All uses of radioisotopes, particle accelerators, X-ray-producing machinery, and other sources of ionizing radiation fall under the jurisdiction of the University Radiation Safety Committee and its operating arm, the University Radiation Safety Office.

The committee has the administrative responsibility for safe usage, obtaining licenses, authorization of individuals to use sources, purchase approvals, and disposal of radiation sources. Detailed information is available in the manual Regulations Regarding the Safe Use of Sources of Ionizing Radiation. Work with radioactive materials must be carried out under the control of an “Authorized User” approved by the Radiation Safety Committee. All other sources of ionizing radiation must be registered with the Radiation Safety Office and must have a designated person responsible for their safe use. Researchers, laboratory personnel, and other users of ionizing radiation sources must receive general instruction provided by the Radiation Safety Office. Specific instruction must be provided by the authorized user or other responsible individuals.

Experimenters have the primary responsibility to maintain a safe working environment and to comply with the regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Additional rules are imposed by licensing agreements with these agencies and by the University Radiation Safety Committee. Administrators must plan for and provide approved facilities, then enforce regulations and rules.

The Radiation Safety Office implements Radiation Safety Committee policies and procedures. It is staffed with professional health physicists, qualified technicians, and support personnel. Radiation Safety Office personnel are available for information about safe uses of radiation sources, procurement, waste disposal, transfer of sources, exposure measurements, record keeping, environmental assessments, licensing, and regulations. The Radiation Safety website contains key manuals, news, application forms, etc. The Radiation Safety Office is located at 3500 Fifth Ave, Suite 400, telephone 412-624-2728, or email

Recycling, Composting, & Materials Diversion

The University asks all staff members to support our goals to reduce materials to landfill an additional 25% by 2030, including via our campus-wide single stream recycling and other materials diversion programs. Containers for all single stream recyclable items are clearly labeled and/or blue. Recycling bins are generally located in offices, workstations, common areas, hallways, lobbies, and similar locations. Compostable collection is available in select locations across campus, clearly labeled, and green. Other specialty materials (textiles, electronics, batteries, toner/ink cartridges, surplus furniture, and more) are also collected across campus. For further information, please visit the Pitt Zero Waste webpage.

Reference Checks

It is the usual policy of the University to check employment history and references of job candidates, both internal and external. Background checks in appropriate cases may include criminal history, motor vehicle history, credit history, and other records. For some occupations, the University is required by law to ask prior employers for certain information. In the event of a proposed internal transfer of a current staff member or rehire of a former staff member, before an offer of employment can be made it is necessary to document that a reference was obtained from a supervisor in the candidate’s most recent University department–preferably the candidate’s immediate supervisor–who is reasonably familiar with the candidate’s work performance.

Research Integrity

All members of the University community who participate in research projects must adhere to the highest standards of integrity in research. In addition to traditional University standards, federal regulations now impose strict policies and procedures on the University for dealing with possible research misconduct. A valuable guide to research ethics is the University’s Guidelines for Ethical Practices in Research. Allegations of possible violations of research ethics are investigated and, if wrongdoing is found, sanctioned under the procedures described in RI 07 Research Integrity (formerly 11-01-01). This policy can also be obtained from the University’s research integrity officer (412-624-3007), who is also available to answer questions about the interpretation or application of research standards.

Smoking Policy

Smoking is prohibited in all University-owned and leased facilities and in all University vehicles. Review CS 21 Smoking (formerly 04-05-03).

Staff Recognition

The Office of Human Resources sponsors an annual recognition ceremony in honor of staff who have completed certain levels of years of service at the University. Honored staff receive a certificate and a University-related gift. Recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Staff also are recognized annually.

Staff Responsibility

You are expected to adhere to University policies as well as city, state, and federal laws. Furthermore, you are expected to demonstrate respect and sensitivity toward colleagues, students, and the general public; report to work on time; maintain University and departmental confidentiality; and dress in an appropriate manner in the workplace, as determined by the departmental administrator.

Technology Help Desk

The Technology Help Desk, operated by Computing Services and Systems Development, serves as a single point of contact for all information technology services at the University. The Technology Help Desk is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer all information technology-related questions.

For more information, please call 412-624-HELP [4357] or visit the Information Technology website.

Travel and Business Expenses

The University will reimburse you for approved and authorized expenses incurred while on University business and/or related travel when the expense is:

You may not use University funds to entertain fellow employees at lunches, holiday parties, or similar activities that are not directly related to University business or otherwise sanctioned by the appropriate University official. It is encouraged that all airline, hotel, and car rental reservations be made through the University's preferred contracted supplier, Anthony Travel, via the Concur online tool or by contacting the onsite agents at, 844-583-5963 or 412-246-9024.

For more details, review FN 28 University Travel, Business Entertainment, Honoraria, and Miscellaneous Reimbursable Expenses (formerly 05-07-01), contact PantherExpress Customer Service at 412-624-3578, or visit the PantherExpress website.

A018 University-wide Closure and Class Cancellation (Formerly 07-04-02 Extreme Weather Conditions)

This Interim Policy provides the standard for both University-wide class cancellation and closure of the University and establishes the roles and responsibilities in the rare instance in which the entire University is closed. The objective is to establish standard operating procedures that are clear in direction during the cancellation of all classes and/or events or activities at the University. Only the chancellor has the authority to officially close the Pittsburgh campus of the University. The presidents of the regional campuses are authorized to officially close their respective campuses. Cancellation of classes does not mean that the University is closed. In the event that you are unable to report to work at the appointed time, you should contact your supervisor within the first hour of the workday.

For further guidelines, review AO18 University-wide Closure and Class Cancellation (Formerly 07-04-02 Extreme Weather Conditions). Notifications also will be posted on the University’s website.

University Communications

Official promotional publications for the University of Pittsburgh must be reviewed and approved by the Office of University Communications and Marketing (UCM). All institutional identity stationery items–letterhead, envelopes, and business cards–must be provided by this department. All display and broadcast advertising should be cleared through the Office of University Communications and Marketing. This office provides assistance in purchasing print space and airtime and in writing, editing, and designing promotional publications and advertisements. All printing paid for by the University must be coordinated through UCM. For more information, call 412-624-4147. Review AO 23 Licensing and Use of University Name, Logos, Trademarks, and Service Marks (formerly 08-01-01).

University Name, Titles, Seal, and Logos

University name, titles, seal, and logos, including letterhead stationery, may be used only for official business authorized by the University. When conducting University business over the telephone, you should identify yourself as a University staff member. Review AO 23 Licensing and Use of University Name, Logos, Trademarks, and Service Marks (formerly 08-01-01).

Violent, Threatening and/or Intimidating Behavior

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to maintaining a safe workplace for all faculty, students, staff and visitors; physical violence and/or threatening behavior will not be tolerated. Violent, threatening, intimidating or other wrongful hostile behavior that occurs on property that is owned or controlled by the University, or that is otherwise connected to University employment, programs or interests (e.g., behavior during work-related business trips or that results in adverse media coverage) is strictly prohibited. Prohibited behaviors include, but are not limited to, oral or written threats and/or intimidation, physical acts against persons or property, stalking and possession of weapons. Such behavior may result in criminal arrest and prosecution and/or disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Purported joking or bantering intent will not excuse behaviors that could reasonably be perceived as prohibited.

Anyone witnessing any such behavior or the planning or preparation for such behavior should immediately notify the University Police Department at 412-624-2121; if a University staff member is involved please also notify the Office of Human Resources at 412-624-8138. The University is committed to promptly and thoroughly investigating reasonable complaints of violent, threatening and/or intimidating behavior. In addition, any individual who obtains a temporary or permanent Protection From Abuse Order or Restraining Order listing any University location as a protected area should provide a copy of the Order to the University Police Department.

Please note that the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is a University benefit that is available to all Faculty and Staff members as a confidential resource to assist them with issues such as managing stress, family problems, issues in a relationship, resolving conflicts and a variety of other concerns.

Visitors to Labs and Shops (Including Minors)

As an extension of its educational responsibilities, the University of Pittsburgh allows and encourages community representatives, members of the public, and students to visit University facilities. However, because of safety and liability issues, visitations by such groups and individuals to laboratories and shops must be under the direct supervision of an authorized faculty or staff member, or part of a formally organized open house, guided tour, or supervised educational program.

Children are not authorized to visit laboratories and shops, except as a participant in a formally sponsored tour or educational program with permission of an informed parent or guardian, or with parental permission and as the guest and under the supervision of a University student or faculty or staff member. At no time should children be permitted to use or be exposed to unreasonable hazardous chemicals or materials or dangerous procedures during their visit.

Children of University students, faculty, and staff members are not authorized to be in laboratories or shops on either an attended or unattended child care basis. For the purpose of these guidelines, “children” refers to minors under 18 years of age who are not students or employees of the University.

The organization unit chair/director, shop supervisor, or laboratory principal investigator bears primary responsibility for ensuring that University students, faculty, and staff members under their direction are aware of and adhere to these guidelines.

Weapons and Dangerous Substances

The use, possession, or manufacture on any University property of firearms, explosives, weapons, or other dangerous articles or substances that may be injurious to persons or property is strictly prohibited without University authorization. Any violation will result in disciplinary action up to and including filing criminal charges and/or termination of employment.

Web Communications

The Office of University Communications and Marketing's (UCM) Web Team maintains the University’s institutional webpages and offers custom Web solutions to all official academic and administrative units of the University community. The UCM’s Web Team ensures that the websites of official academic and administrative units reach their full potential, are produced economically, and reflect the excellence of each school, program, or department. For more information call 412-624-0409.

Whistleblower Laws

The "Whistleblower Law" of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prohibits an employer from discharging, threatening, or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against an employee regarding the employee's terms and conditions of employment because the employee makes or is about to make a good faith report, orally or in writing, to the employer or appropriate governmental authority about an instance of "wrongdoing" or "waste."

An employee alleging a violation of this Act must show by a preponderance of the evidence that, prior to the alleged reprisal, the employee or person acting on behalf of the employee had reported or was about to report in good faith, orally or in writing, an instance of wrongdoing or waste to the employer or an appropriate authority. There is no violation if the action by the employer occurred for separate and legitimate reasons. The terms "wrongdoing" and "waste" are defined in the Act as follows:

WrongdoingA violation that is not of a merely technical or minimal nature of a federal or state statute or regulation, of a political subdivision ordinance or regulation, or of a code of conduct or ethics designed to protect the interest of the public or the employer

Waste—An employer's conduct or omissions that result in substantial abuse, misuse, destruction, or loss of funds or resources belonging to or derived from commonwealth or political subdivision sources

Federal law also prohibits reprisals against an employee of an employer receiving Federal contracts, subcontracts or grants for disclosing to a "person" or "body" what the employee reasonably believes is evidence of: gross mismanagement of a Federal contract or grant; gross waste of Federal funds; abuse of authority relating to a Federal contract or grant; a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; or a violation of law, rule or regulation related to a Federal contract or grant. (US Code Title 41, Chapter 47 available on the Office of Law Revision Counsel website). 

"Person" or "body" is defined as: a Member of Congress or a representative of a committee of Congress; an Inspector General; The Government Accountability Office; a Federal employee responsible for contract or grant oversight or management at the relevant agency; an authorized official of the Department of Justice or other law enforcement agency; a court or grand jury; or a management official or other employee of the contractor, subcontractor or grantee who has the responsibility to investigate, discover or address misconduct. 

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a legal remedy that covers medical expenses and wage loss for employees who have been injured in the course and scope of their employment. You must report any work-related injury or illness to your supervisor immediately and call 1-800-633-1197 to report your injury directly to the University’s third-party claims administrator. All employee work injuries/illnesses should be reported within 24 hours from the time a claim/incident occurs. If you are medically unable to report your claim, your supervisor should call the 1-800 number to report on your behalf. If you sustain on-the-job injuries or illnesses, you are required to seek treatment by a University-approved medical provider for the first 90 days of treatment.

For a list of the approved medical providers and other important information, please visit the Workers' Compensation web page.