Employment Policies for Student Workers

Purpose: To identify the procedure and process for the selection and employment of student workers.

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Disclaimers

Employment At-Will

No policy, provision or procedure is intended to create a binding employment agreement, or an implied or expressed contract, between any employee and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

At-Will Employees are hereby given clear notice that their employment is for no specific term, is not guaranteed in any way, and can be ended by the employee or Rensselaer at any time, with or without cause or notice.

General Contract Disclaimer

The Employment Policy and Procedures for Student Workers are designed to serve as guidelines for management action. No policy, provision or procedure creates a binding employment agreement, implied or expressed contract, or guarantee of continued employment, nor is any guideline intended to create any kind of contract, binding agreement or guarantee.

Oral Representation Disclaimer

Any employment agreement binding the Institute to specific terms or benefits must be approved in writing and signed by the President, Provost, the Vice President for Human Resources or designee. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is not bound by any oral assurances of employment.

Right to Modify Policy and Procedures

The Vice President for Human Resources, acting on behalf of the President's Cabinet, reserves the right to change, add, or eliminate any of the Institute's policies, procedures, health, welfare, and Pension benefit plans, or language, except the Institutes' policy regarding "at will" employment, at any time without prior or further notice.

The Vice President for Human Resources, acting on behalf of the President's Cabinet, reserves the right to issue new policies, which supersedes any previously issued policy or procedure.

Any new policies or procedures supersede any previously issued verbal or written policies.

Right to Deviate from Policy and Procedures

Rensselaer reserves the right to manage its employees as circumstances warrant or as Rensselaer sees fit.

All policies and procedures, except the Institutes' policy regarding "at will" employment, can be changed or modified at any time that particular circumstances warrant.

The Institute reserves the right to deviate from policies or procedures at any time.

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New York State Paid Family Leave

New York State Paid Family Leave Law

New York State’s Paid Family Leave provides New Yorkers with job-protected, paid leave to bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child within the first 12 months, or to care for a family member — such as a spouse, domestic partner, child/stepchild or anyone for whom they have legal custody — with a serious health condition. This policy also applies to an employee’s parent/stepparent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild.

In addition, employees can use New York State’s Paid Family Leave to take time they may need in order to relieve family pressures when a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is called to active military service abroad.  However, the leave cannot apply to an employee’s own qualifying military service.

For 2019, covered employees are eligible for up to 10 weeks of paid leave equal to 55% of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $746.41 per week. Benefits will be phased in each year through 2021, when covered employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave equal to 67% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap equal to 67% of the NYS average weekly wage. Employees can only take PFL in whole-day increments. All other leave benefits, such as Paid Time Off or New York State Short Term Disability benefits, cannot be taken the same day as PFL.

Eligibility

“Covered employees”— that is, those who are eligible for PFL coverage — can include full- and part-time employees.

Employees with a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible for coverage after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Note that the 26 consecutive weeks of employment includes periods of absence that are due to the nature of that employment, such as semester breaks, and when employment is not terminated during those periods of absence.

Employees with a regular work schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked. There is no minimum number of hours of work required in each day.

Those who do not work in New York State are not covered by the New York State Paid Family Leave Policy.

Requests

Paid Family Leave can be taken either all at once or intermittently, but must be taken in full-day increments.

Employees who foresee that they may need to use PFL should notify the Divison of Human Resources and their supervisor at least 30 days before the start of leave; otherwise, as soon as possible.

For more information about the New York State Paid Family Leave Policy, eligibility, types of leave, and request forms, please visit the New York State Paid Family Leave website, or contact Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, in the Division of Human Resources at (518) 276-6164.

Cost

PFL coverage will be paid for in full by employee payroll tax deductions. For the 2021 calendar year, the New York State Department of Financial Services has set PFL premium tax rates equal to 0.511% of gross wages paid up to a maximum of $385.34 for the year. For example, a covered employee who earns $1,000 in a pay period would be required to contribute $5.11 in PFL tax premiums for that pay period.

PFL Waiver Form

Rensselaer will withhold PFL premiums (on an after-tax basis) from employee payroll checks issued to all covered employees except those who have elected to file an optional PFL waiver with Rensselaer because their employment schedule will not allow them to meet PFL eligibility requirements.

Employees are eligible to waive PFL coverage only if (1) their regular employment schedule is 20 hours or more per week but they will not work 26 consecutive weeks, or (2) their regular employment schedule is less than 20 hours per week and they will not work 175 days in 52 consecutive weeks.

For those employees who waive the PFL payroll deduction and have a change in their schedule that requires them to continue working either: (1) 20 or more hours per week for 26 or more consecutive weeks or (2) less than 20 hours per week and at least 175 days in a 52-consecutive-week period, the waiver form they submitted will be revoked and the appropriate payroll deductions will be made from their wages. In addition, Rensselaer will deduct all retroactive amounts due once the employee is notified, back to their hire date. Employees are therefore asked to please carefully consider their work schedule and only submit a PFL waiver if their regular work schedule will not reach the eligibility requirements.

The choice to waive PFL is optional and revocable. A PFL waiver form entitled: “Employee Opt-Out of Paid Family Leave Benefits” is available for part-time covered employees, and for full-time covered employees with a work schedule of less than 26 consecutive weeks. Employees who are eligible to opt-out of PFL coverage and wish to do so must fill out and submit the optional waiver form.

To obtain this waiver form, please contact the Division of Human Resources at (518) 276-6302, or visit the New York State Paid Family Leave website. Employees who complete a waiver will not contribute to PFL through payroll deductions and will not be eligible for leave or benefit payments under PFL. The employee must complete and sign the waiver form and send it to the Division of Human Resources for final sign-off.

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New York State Sick Leave

New York State Sick Leave Law

In accordance with the New York State Sick Leave Law (NYSSL), effective January 1, 2021, all eligible employees will be provided protected time off to address mental or physical illness, injury, medical/preventative care or to address issues related to domestic violence for one’s self or for a qualified family member, and for other purposes as may be permitted by the Law.

A “qualified family member” is defined as child, spouse/domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, grandparent and child or parent of the employee’s spouse/domestic partner. Child or parent relationships include: biological, foster, step/adoptive, legal guardian/ward and loco parentis.

Student employees who are paid on an hourly basis will accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours of sick leave per academic year, in accordance with the law.

Student employees who are paid on a non-hourly basis, will be eligible to take paid sick leave as needed on a going basis, as provided under the law and consistent with the requirements of their job duties.

Process:

All student employees are expected to communicate with their supervisors about anticipated or unexpected sick leave that is needed.

Student employees paid on an hourly basis must report sick leave on their timesheet in Rensselaer Self Service (RSS) each pay period. A summary of sick leave earned and used may be accessed in Rensselaer Self Service (RSS).

If an employee is unable to work due to illness for more than seven calendar days, the employee should apply for short-term disability. Short-term disability benefits provide income continuation for student workers who are unable to work due to a non-job-related illness or injury. Contact the Division of Human Resources at (518) 276-6302, for more details.

Students are expected not to abuse the sick leave policy and will be subject to disciplinary actions as noted in the Student Employment Handbook, if abuse of the policy occurs.

Status Changes:

A covered student employee may carry over all unused, accrued sick leave into the next academic year.  As noted above, at no time, however, may a covered student employee use more than 56 hours of sick leave in an academic year.

Sick leave balances will be reduced to zero if and when a student stops attending the Institute.  If a separated student employee is later re-enrolled and works, they will earn sick time as a newly hired employee. A covered student employee who separates from the Institute will not receive a payout of unused sick time.

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Definitions

Employment Eligibility Verification Information (Form I-9)

Rensselaer is committed to meeting its obligations under U.S. immigration law. Accordingly, Rensselaer neither hires nor continues to employ any individual who is not legally authorized to work in the United States. Moreover, Rensselaer does not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status or national origin in recruitment, hiring, or discharge. This policy applies to all employees, including staff, faculty, research professionals, and members of the President's Cabinet.

All student workers must complete and sign Section 1 of the eligibility verification form (Department of Homeland Security Form I-9) and return it to their supervisor or designated representative of the Institute on or before their first day of paid employment. By the third business day following their first day of paid employment, the student worker must present original, unexpired documents to their supervisor, or to a designated Institute official. The List of Acceptable Documents is found within the Form I-9.

Any student worker who fails to complete the Form I-9 and present required documentation within the prescribed timeframes is not permitted to work.

For specific guidelines and instructions for the employment of student workers, who are Foreign Nationals (non US citizens or resident aliens), contact the International Students and Scholars Office during regular business hours.

I-9 Rehires and Reverifications (Form I-9 Section 3)

Employment Status

Student workers who want to resign the positions they occupy should provide at least two weeks notice to their supervisors.

Foreign National

A Foreign National is defined as any worker who is neither a citizen nor a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Meal Periods

The following guidelines are established for student worker meal periods. Under New York State law, the department must provide and the student worker must take a meal period as outlined below:

  • Lunch Periods: Student workers are allowed at least thirty minutes for a noon-day meal period, which is defined as the period from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A student worker, who works a shift of more than six (6) hours, which extends over the noon-day meal period, is entitled to at least 30 minutes off within that time frame for the meal period.
  • Other Meal Periods: Student workers employed for a period or shift starting before 11:00 a.m. and continuing later than 7:00 p.m. shall be allowed an additional meal period of at least 20 minutes between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

In addition, whenever a student worker's shift is more than six (6) hours, a minimum 30-minute meal period must be taken approximately mid-way between the start time and end of that shift.

New Hire

A New Hire is defined as a Student Worker who is currently an enrolled matriculated student of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and who has not been previously employed as a Student Work at the Institute.

Other Policies

Student workers are expected to adhere to all other policies and procedures for employees as stated in the Human Resources Policy Guidelines manual. Visit the Human Resource website for more information.

Overtime

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will comply with Federal and State labor laws in the payment of overtime in the event that an hourly student worker works more than 40 hours in one standard work week. Student workers are to be paid overtime at a rate of one and a half (1½) times the regular rate of pay for work in excess of forty hours in a standard work week. The standard work week begins Thursday at midnight and ends the following Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute does not anticipate that student workers will work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session or more than 40 hours per week at other times.Note that various student employment programs (URP, etc.) have specific guidelines for the number of hours that are allowed to be worked. Please ensure you understand those guidelines and reach out to the program coordinator with any questions. 

If is it determined that overtime is allowed, student workers must obtain permission from their immediate supervisor prior to working more than 40 hours within any standard work week. A student worker, who works for more than one Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute department, must be paid overtime if his or her total hours of work to Institute departments during a standard work week exceed 40 hours. (Remember to follow program guidelines before allowing a student to work overtime.)

Student workers are responsible for securing written or email approval from all supervisors before exceeding forty hours in one standard work week. Student workers working for more than one department are expected to keep their supervisors informed of their schedules, including the possibility of overtime, so that departments may plan and budget appropriately.

Pay Periods

The standard work week for student workers begins Thursday at midnight and ends at 11:59 p.m. the following Wednesday. Student workers are paid on a bi-weekly basis with checks issued on alternate Fridays.

Policy Statement for the Employment of Student Workers

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute encourages student workers, as well as the portfolios and departments that employ them, to carefully read and familiarize themselves with the Employment Policy for Student Workers. Each portfolio may establish its own additional standards of performance and conduct regarding the employment of student workers, as long as they are consistent with the Employment Policy for Student Workers, federal and state laws and regulations. Students are entitled to request and receive a copy of any written statement of additional standards of performance and conduct that apply in their portfolio and/or department.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recognizes the benefits of student workers. In addition to earning money to assist with educational costs, student workers have an opportunity to practice workplace skills, gain work experience, while lending their talents to the Institute. Student workers are not entitled to Institute benefits with the exception of New York State Workers Compensation and short-term disability benefits.

This policy applies to all Student Workers employed by the Institute.

Rehire

A Rehire is defined as a Rensselaer student who stops attending the Institute and is re-admitted. Students that are granted an approved leave of absence are not considered re-hires unless they do not return at the time their official leave ends. The supervisor, or designated representative of the Institute, must complete Section 3 when rehiring a student worker within 3 years of the date that the Form I-9 was originally completed, as long as the previous work authorization has not expired.

Reverification

Reverification applies if the evidence of employment authorization (List A or List C documents) presented has expired. The instructions for reverification are described on the Form I-9. The International Students and Scholars Services Office should be consulted at least 60 days in advance of the work authorization expiration date of the student worker.

The Reverification of a foreign national student worker must happen on or before the expiration date of the work authorization. Failure to complete this process within this time frame will prohibit the student worker from working until current documentation is presented.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is committed to providing a working, living and learning environment free of sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence and sexual misconduct. For detailed information about related policies, procedures, reporting complaints, confidential care and support services visit our Rensselaer Title IX website.

Short-term Disability

Short-term disability benefits provide income continuation for student workers who are unable to work due to a non-job-related illness or injury. Contact the Division of Human Resources at (518) 276-6302, for more details.

Student Worker

A Student Worker is defined as an individual who is candidate for a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute degree and is registered for at least six (6) credits at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Degree candidates who are registered for fewer than six (6), but at least one (1) credit, AND are enrolled to complete their thesis or dissertation, may be allowed to continue as a student worker if they are enrolled in an on-campus cooperative. A continuing students employed during the summer must be eligible to and be planning to register for the next fall term. Students who have graduated may not be hired nor may they continue to be employed as student workers. Individuals who are not admitted as degree-seeking students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute may not be hired as student workers.

Tracking and Submission of Hours Worked

Hourly Student Workers are required to document the hours they work by using an approved Institute mechanism for tracking and submitting time. For a student worker to be paid, hours must be submitted and approved by the supervisor or other designated department staff member according to the published payroll schedule. The submission of hours is the responsibility of the student worker. The hours submitted must be an accurate account of the hours worked for each week. The supervisor or other designated department staff member, who signs or otherwise approves the student worker's submission of hours, must be a regular Institute employee, not a student supervisor. The supervisor or other designated department staff member must have personal knowledge of the hours worked by the student worker to be able to certify the accuracy of the time card. Deliberate falsification of hours worked is grounds for disciplinary action up to and including the termination of employment.

Work Authorization

Work Authorization refers to documentation that demonstrates that a foreign national is authorized to work in the United States.

Workers' Compensation

Workers' Compensation provides benefits to student workers for injuries or illnesses arising out of and in the course of employment. Contact the Division of Human Resources at (518) 276-6302 for more details.