Student employment restriction to be lifted for fall 2015 semester, hours to remain limited

The Human Resources and Payroll Services Department released a planned update this week to the Geneseo Student Employment Handbook regarding rules and regulations for student employment, effective Aug. 31, 2015. Among other revisions, the changes will overturn a current stipulation stating that Geneseo students may hold only one temporary service position at a time, which went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.

Temporary service positions include any campus jobs held by students who do not qualify for work study and those that are not overseen and/or compensated by Campus Auxiliary Services—including dining hall and Student Association positions—according to Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Julie Briggs. Typical examples of temporary service positions are jobs within the Residence Life, Access Opportunity Programs and Computing & Information Technology departments, among others.

Briggs explained that these alterations to Geneseo’s employment policies are related to changes in State University of New York policy accommodating federal health care legislation, specifically the Affordable Care Act. She emphasized that the specific policy changes enacted at Geneseo are not part of the Affordable Care Act itself or directly required by SUNY policy.

The Affordable Care Act specifies that employers must provide healthcare insurance to employees who work 30 or more hours per week. A SUNY policy revision effective on Sept. 1, 2014 regarding student temporary positions—also known as “student assistant positions”—states that “student assistant employment at all times, including semester breaks and during the summer, is limited to a maximum of 29 hours per week combined” as student temporary positions nearly never qualify for benefits.

CAS Director of Human Resources Rhonda Lander said that this SUNY policy change aligns with widespread national part-time hours reductions driven by healthcare reform.

“The easiest thing for employers to do is say, ‘That’s it. We can’t employ anybody greater than 29 [hours],’” she said. “It’s an administrative nightmare in some cases.”

According to Briggs, Geneseo employment policy “pretty much mirrored the SUNY policy.” Due to the fact that the campus had no mechanism to track whether or not student employees would remain under the prescribed 29-hour maximum, the HR department recommended that students be barred from holding more than one temporary service position. Even after the policy went into effect, however, students already committed to multiple positions were allowed to remain in those positions for the rest of the 2014–2015 school year.

Briggs cited student employee and supervisor concerns as the major reason for investigations and subsequent elimination of this single position limitation by the HR department. The department researched whether or not students had historically or recently exceeded the 29-hour limit and found that they typically did not. This alongside “benchmarking with other SUNY campuses about their practices” brought about the current policy change.

Instead of utilizing strict tracking mechanisms, Briggs explained that, “We’re just leaving it up to [student employees] and their supervisors to make sure that they stay within that limit.” Students will still be barred from holding more than one temporary appointment during the summer of 2015.

The new restrictions commencing during the fall 2015 semester require that students must be registered for at least six credit hours per semester to work as a student employee and that no American student work over 29 hours per week while international students may not work more than 20 hours per week. They also recommend that students hold no more than three temporary service positions at once.

While CAS positions are unaffected by these college payroll changes, the organization will continue to require that its employees work no more than 20 hours per week. Additionally, students will no longer be able to work in multiple CAS locations during the same period next year.

Lander said that this change was spurred by an effort to promote stronger customer service between locations—particularly when students substitute for one another during their respective shifts.

“What we’re trying to do is provide more consistent customer service and make it easier for the large population of our students,” she said.

Briggs added that college HR seeks to promote student academic welfare most prominently. “Obviously first and foremost, you’re here for your studies and your academics,” she said. “We don’t want students stretching themselves so thin and running between [too many] positions even though it’s under 29 hours.”