How are you getting paid? The facts behind student pay changes on campus

If you’re a student employed on campus, chances are you’ve used a timecard. If not, you might see some changes ahead. The Department of Human Resources at St. Kate’s is examining student employment positions that are paid via lump sum rather than hourly pay.

Who will experience pay changes from lump sum to hourly wage? A relatively small amount of student workers will be affected. SKAT has already switched over to a time sheet, hourly wage system. However, Human Resources is currently looking at positions like those with The Wheel that pay lump sums to students. Also under consideration are new job positions that are proposing to pay via lump sum.

“The vast majority of our jobs were paid by the hour and received a time sheet,” Susan Sexton, Director of Human Resources, said.

Since fall 2013, Human Resources has examined how it is paying students, both to meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to count employee hours, and to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). According to the United States Department of Labor, the FSLA “establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards.”

Under the FSLA, students are exempt from hourly wage requirements if several criteria are met, including the following: the work being done is for the benefit of the student, the employer receives no immediate advantage from the work, and both student and employer agree that the student is not entitled to wages for the student’s work.

It is important to note that this focus on lump sum payments versus hourly wages is not about doing things wrong in the past; this closer examination of methods of student pay stems from systematic review, according to Human Resources.

Human Resources is looking at who is getting paid for work and should earn hourly wages, and who is doing academic work and could potentially receive scholarships rather than wages. Under FSLA, the difference is that work for pay is about completing a task, while academic work is primarily about the educational setting.

“When a student is paid a lump sum, the University does not know how many hours the student worked for the pay they received, this is one of the main issues with lump sum payments,” Sexton said.

Human Resources needs to be able to track the work hours of student employees, to ensure they are being paid minimum wage and being compensated for any overtime, in order to comply with FSLA.

In addition to examining how student employees are paid, Human Resources is focusing on communicating with all departments at St. Kate’s, so that students’ supervisors know which types of work qualify for which types of pay. This includes training supervisors and working with the Financial Aid and business offices.

Another change in student pay has already been implemented: minimum pay was increased from $7.75/hour to $8.25/hour and all student wages increased by $0.50/hour in fall 2013, according to Human Resources. Raising the minimum pay for students before Minnesota raised the state minimum wage to $8.00/hour in Aug. 2014 meant that Human Resources didn’t need to make any bigger changes to student wages. The wage increase keeps St. Kate’s student workers’ minimum pay above the state minimum wage.

“We will continue to raise student pay so it aligns with state and federal laws,” said Sexton.

Ultimately, changes to student employees’ wages occur in order to protect students and to comply with state and federal laws.

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