Rule enforces limits on student employees

Cody Boyer

A possible enforcement to a Northern Michigan University student employment policy is being discussed by the institution of NMU and the Career Services Center, which could enforce the number of hours student on-campus employees will be permitted to work.

According to the Student Employment Handbook, in the past, “a student should work no more than 20 hours per week when regular semester classes are in session without the direct approval of the department head.  Any students working overtime (more than 40 hours per week) will be paid time and one-half.”

Katie Meyers, a senior biology major, is an employee for Dining Services on campus, where she works at the Wildcat Den as both a cashier and a server. (Photo: Katie Stumman)
Katie Meyers, a senior biology major, is an employee for Dining Services on campus, where she works at the Wildcat Den as both a cashier and a server. (Photo: Katie Stumman)

The university will be changing the policy to permit students from working more than 20 hours of work per week, regardless of exceptions from the university, according to the NMU Career Services Center.

Director of the Academic and Career Advisement Center Jim Gadzinksi said while the policy’s enforcement has not yet been implemented, NMU is discussing moving forward with the change.

“Nothing has been approved yet by the board, which means the policy really has not changed,” Gadzinksi said. “What’s happening is the health care laws are saying if a student is averaging 30 hours a week in employment, you have to provide them Healthcare coverage, which is pretty expensive.”

Gadzinksi said the institution will revise the student employment policy and the hours students will be working will be cumulative on a weekly basis. Gadzinksi also added exceptions to restrictions may only be granted for temporary situations of one to two weeks at a time and not for semester-long arrangements.

NMU Director of Human Resources Ann Sherman said the unit vice president must approve the exception before anything can happen.

“It isn’t a new rule,” Sherman said. “We are just enforcing it. The policy has actually been in place for a long period of time and it’s that students taking classes can only work 20 hours a week during the academic year.”

Sherman also said the decision to enforce the policy has two positive outcomes that have been discussed by the institution.

“The fundamental purpose for the 20-hour rule is that students are devoting the appropriate amount of time to their studies,” Sherman said. “The second thing is that hopefully this will provide more opportunities for more students on the campus because we do regularly get complaints from students who have been appointed work study and tell me that they can’t find a job because they could hire, for instance, three people at 20 hours or they could only hire two people at 30 hours. Our goal is to ensure that as many as people that are in need of support are able to find the support that they need.”

For more information about the student employment policy, the rule can be located in the student employment handbook online at http://www.nmu.edu/careerservices/employmenthandbook. For information about the enforcement of the policy, Career Services can be contacted at (906) 227-2800.

“Right now, we have additional liability to the university because if we have students who are working significant numbers of additional hours,” Sherman said. “We have potential cost implications for the university because the liability could be a quarter of a million dollars just for financial risk.”