Topics Map > 1. Types of Appointments > 1.04 Student Hourly Employees

Student Hourly Employees

UW–Madison policy for Student Hourly employees.

Functional Owner

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Executive Sponsor

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

Policy Contact

Director, Compensation & Titling

Policy Summary

This policy outlines employment provisions for all Student Hourly employees at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison). Student Hourly employees do not have grievance or layoff rights and are non-exempt (hourly) employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Student Hourly employees are typically undergraduate students, employed "at-will," have no expectation of continued employment, and do not count toward UW–Madison's full-time equivalent (FTE) count. Under Wis. Stat. § 108.02(15)(i), Student Hourly employees enrolled as UW–Madison students are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Under Wis. Stat. §40.02(25)(b), Student Hourly employees are non-benefits eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance coverage through the UW-System. Under Wis. Stat § 102.03, Student Hourly employees are covered by Worker’s Compensation.

Who This Policy Applies To

To be eligible for employment as a Student Hourly employee at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, an individual must meet the following requirements.

The position is incidental to the individual's purpose or presence at the institution as a student. In other words, the individual's presence on campus is primarily to be a student, not an employee. It is not permissible to hire a person as a Student Hourly employee if they are taking credits merely to be eligible for Student Hourly employment. This is a judgment that needs to be made by the employing unit. Factors to consider when making this decision include whether they are taking courses for credit, whether they are working towards a degree and whether they have a pattern of taking less than a half-time load.

The individual must be enrolled for academic credit at an educational institution. An educational institution is defined as:

  • an accredited institution of higher learning granting associate degrees or higher;
  • a technical college;
  • a vocational or trade school; or
  • a high school.

The employing unit is responsible for verifying an individual's eligibility and maintaining documentation of verification. This verification must occur every semester in which the student is employed. Suitable methods of verification include: ISIS record (for UW–Madison students), letter from home institution, phone call to home institution's Registrar, copy of current registration and course schedule, current tuition payment receipt, or on-line verification. Graduate students may be employed in Student Hourly positions as long as the work performed is not that of a Teaching Assistant, Project/Program Assistant, or Research Assistant. Note: individuals hired from outside of the UW-System are eligible for unemployment compensation.

Important note regarding F-1 and J-1 international students: special consideration needs to be paid to F-1 and J-1 international students when verifying eligibility. Federal visa regulations specify that F-1 international students and enrolled J-1 international students are eligible for on-campus employment, but only at the school listed on their immigration document. For F-1s, the school is listed in the school information section on the I-20; for J-1s, the school is listed in item #2, the Program Sponsor, of the DS-2019. In these cases, the F-1 student and enrolled J-1 student does not need any special authorization to be employed 20 hours per week when school is in session and/or full-time during breaks. The J-1 student does need special authorization to be employed 20 hours per week when school is in session and/or full-time during breaks. Authorization does not print on the I-20, so an enrolled J-1 student will be issued an on-campus employment authorization letter. J-1 on-campus employment authorization is valid for one year, or the validity of the DS-2019, whichever is less. When processing I-9s, departments will need to verify that the student's I-20/DS-2019 is indeed issued by the University of Wisconsin–Madison. If it is not, an I-20 or DS-2019 alone does not provide sufficient proof of eligibility. Questions should be directed to International Students Services at (608) 262-2044 or

The individual must be at least 16 years of age. For more information on the employment of minors in the state of Wisconsin, refer to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: Employment of Minors and Work Permits.

Semester Eligibility. A student may not be employed prior to the first payroll calendar day of the student's first semester of enrollment. Summer eligibility is the only exception (see below). Students who graduate, or complete an academic semester and will not be enrolling in the following semester may continue to be employed as a Student Hourly only through the last day of the student hourly pay period of the completed semester. Students who withdraw from school during a semester are no longer eligible for Student Hourly employment as of the date of withdrawal.

Summer Eligibility. Any student who has been accepted for fall enrollment, or is continuing in the fall semester after completion of the spring semester or is enrolled during the summer is eligible for summer employment. For non-UW–Madison students, the unit must confirm the individual’s eligibility as stated above.

Divisions May Have Stricter Eligibility Requirements. More specific provisions (e.g., requiring a greater credit enrollment, or enrollment in the UW–Madison) may be established by a specific college, school, department or other UW–Madison unit.


Student hourly employment is to help meet the needs of the university, provide university students with financial support in pursuit of their academic goals, and provide opportunities for academic or administrative job experience. The job duties and responsibilities of Student Hourly employees vary greatly and may or may not be related to their field of study.

Policy Detail

  1. Compensation

  2. Divisions have the discretion to establish the starting hourly rate at any point within the range of the level (Basic, Intermediate or Advanced). All salary rates above the maximum of the advanced level must have prior approval of the Dean or Director's office with budget responsibility for the wages. Current wage ranges can be found in the Title Guideline.

    Student Hourly employees are subject to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Therefore, Student Hourly employees who are employed for more than 40 hours in a week within the University System will receive premium pay for the hours worked beyond 40 at the rate of one and one-half times the regular hourly rate. Student Hourly employees often hold more than one active job in the University System. If this is the case, the 40 hours per week limit is calculated by combining hours worked for all active jobs in the University System. Note: Student Hourly employees are eligible to work more than 40 hours per week and receive premium pay, but all hours worked (including hours over 40) count toward the calculation of total hours for purposes of ACA and must be monitored by the division(s).

  3. Type of Appointment (Hourly vs. Lump Sum)

  4. All Student Hourly employees shall be paid on an hourly basis and hours of service shall be tracked accordingly in HRS. Any exceptions must be approved by the division Human Resources representative.

    All Student Hourly employees who are working for a time period that is longer than 89 consecutive days must average below 30 hours per week (they can work 40 hours one week and 20 the next as long as the overall average for any rolling 90-day period is not greater than 30 hours per week). A Student Hourly employee working for a time period that is under 90 days may work 40 hours per week without any ACA infraction. Overtime hours are counted toward the total hours calculation. For ACA purposes, UW System is a single employer. Therefore, the restricted hours pertain to any hours worked at all UW–Madison divisions or any other UW System institution statewide. If an employee works for 3 different divisions or at another institution, all hours worked/reported must be combined and stay below the 30-hour weekly average.

    To avoid ACA penalties, it is recommended that all supervisors ensure that their SH and TE employees are not violating the hourly restrictions by following one or more of these measures:

    1. When hiring a SH or TE employee, identify if their working period will be longer than 89 days. If the working period will be over 89 days, limit the hours to average less than 30 hours per week for the entirety of their appointment. If the working period will be less than 90 days, be sure to identify the employees end date, i.e., less than 90 days.
    2. If the position is creating over 30 hours of work per week, consider one of the following:
      • Hiring two SH or TE employees to cover the workload
      • Hire the position on an ongoing basis

    Student employees paid on a lump sum basis are considered to be non-hourly employees for purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the final regulations, employers may use one of three methods to track hours for non-hourly employees: (1) actual hours: (2) days-worked equivalency (each workday of service – 8 hours credited); (3) weeks-worked equivalency (one week of service = 40 hours credited). Failure to identify the expected hours worked will result in application of the days-worked equivalency method for the period they are appointed which may result in fines for failure to offer the individual health insurance. If services are compensated on a lump sum basis, the hiring unit must document the hours spent working on the assignment or the Student employee will be credited with eight (8) hours of service (for ACA purposes) for each day the lump sum appointment is active in the UW’s HR/payroll HRS system. For example, if an individual is hired to shoot a video for a department and is given two months to complete that assignment, the appointment period would be two months (e.g., August 1 through September 30). Using a days-worked equivalency method, that student employee would then be credited with 360 hours of service for ACA purposes.

    Divisions must report hours worked by student employees on a lump sum pay basis appointment on a monthly basis using either a timesheet or a method determined by division to track and record hours in HRS.

    Hours credited due to a Federal Work Study program do not count toward the calculation of hours of service earned for purposes of the ACA.

  5. Levels of Work

  6. All Student Hourly employee jobs are placed in one of three position classifications to assist in determining the appropriate rate of pay: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. The following are descriptions of the general types of work to be included in each level. The examples are not all-inclusive but rather are general indications of the types of jobs included in the levels. These general descriptions provide a framework for classifying jobs not enumerated below.

    Basic Level

    Work is done under close supervision; procedures are well established; employees are not usually required to make decisions which are not enumerated in well-defined policies and procedures

    Examples of this type of work:

    • Routine food service work including grill cooking
    • Routine laboratory work such as dishwashing, preparation of solutions
    • General labor and custodial work
    • Physical processing of library materials: i.e. no data entry involved

    Intermediate Level

    Work that requires, for a major portion of the time, some independent judgment or initiative; and/or requires special knowledge, skills or abilities; and/or requires a major amount of heavy physical exertion; and/or involves adverse hours or working conditions; and/or involves supervisory responsibilities for an activity of limited size.

    Examples of this type of work:

    • Typing or data entry that requires some decision making
    • catalog editing: i.e. modifying existing online data
    • Laboratory work involving simple interpretation of tests or involving complex procedures
    • Supervision of recreational activities
    • Farm labor, including equipment operation
    • Laboratory Animal Caretaker
    • Heavy labor and custodial work
    • Production cook's helper
    • Set-up crew work

    Advanced Level

    Work that requires, for a major portion of the time, advanced specialized knowledge, skills, or abilities; or involves supervisory responsibilities for large or complex activities, usually involving a number of concurrent activities.

    Examples of this type of work:

    • Advanced word processing
    • Technical typing and foreign language typing
    • copy cataloging: i.e. adding new online data
    • Editorial work
    • Class reader and grader
    • Artist or musician
    • Language translator
    • Special laboratory work such as advanced interpretation of test results
    • Operation of electron microscope
    • Supervision of a large or complex activity
    • Residence Halls Night Repairman
    • Night Building Manager
    • Maintenance of financial records requiring advanced accounting knowledge
    • Supervision of recreational activities requiring special qualifications
    • Computer programming
  7. FICA (Social Security) Withholding

  8. To be eligible for an exemption for FICA withholding, a student hourly must be taking a minimum of a half-time course load at any UW System institution (6 credits for undergraduates; 4 credits for non-dissertator graduate students; and 3 credits for dissertators.) This process is monitored by the UW Service Center.

    All other student hourly employees must have FICA taxes withheld from their paychecks. This includes:

    • UW students (at any UW System institution) taking less than a half-time course load.
    • Students in other universities, community colleges and technical colleges, regardless of their course load.
    • High school students.

    Summer Breaks. Student Hourly employees who work during the summer break and who are not enrolled and attending classes during the summer session are not exempt from FICA. However, the FICA exemption will continue to apply as long as the break is five weeks or less, and provided that the student qualified for the exemption on the last day of classes preceding the break and is eligible to enroll in classes for the academic term that follows the break.

  9. ID Cards

  10. Student hourly employees who are enrolled at UW–Madison are eligible to obtain a UW ID card as a student.

    Non UW–Madison Student Hourly employee must be entered into a campus Special Authorization (Spec Auth) file in order to access NetID and get a WisCard. The department requesting access needs to send an email to with the following information:

    • Full Name
    • Gender
    • Date of Birth
    • Empl ID
    • Department UDDS
    • Employee email address (this does not need to be a address)
    • Termination date (if known)

    In order to avoid problems with getting a NetID/WisCard, the non UW–Madison Student Employee’s Social Security number must be in the HRS record (this information should not be sent by email.) Unless a termination date is specified, UW IDs issued to non UW–Madison Student Hourly employees are valid for two years from date of Spec Auth entry. Any other questions about this process can also be directed to

Consequences for Non-Compliance

This document outlines the UWS policies that specifically apply to Student Hourly employment and includes related policies for treatment of Student Hourly employees for purposes of the ACA. The ACA was enacted in 2010 with phased-in requirements. Two of the primary requirements effective beginning in 2015 are the Employer Shared Responsibility Mandate (the “Employer Mandate”) and Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting. The ACA requires large employers (50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees) to offer affordable minimum essential health coverage to a sufficient number (i.e., to at least 95% in 2016 and following years thereafter) of employees working full time as defined by the ACA, that is 30 or more hours per week coverage, in order to avoid penalties under the Employer Mandate, and to report on the offerings and results. Section 6055 requires employers providing Minimum Essential Coverage to report to the IRS about the coverage provided and to whom it is provided.

Supporting Tools

Student Hourly Rates

Time Reporting Presentation

Bursar’s Office Student Payment Guide


Federal Work Study: The federally funded, need-based program in which the federal government and an employer share the payroll cost of employing a student to assist students with the costs of post-secondary education.

Hours of service: Include hours worked, and hours for which a worker is paid but does not work, such as vacation, holiday, illness or disability, jury duty, military duty, or paid leave of absence. For purposes of student worker employment, hours of service do not include hours credited due to participation in a Federal Work Study program.

Employee status: Based upon the ACA common law definition of employee. A full-time employee is an employee who works on average at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month.

Benefits eligible: An employee of the UWS that is eligible for either WRS or the Graduate Assistant/Short-Term AS Benefit Package.

Non-benefits eligible: An employee of the UWS that is not WRS eligible or eligible for the Graduate Assistant/Short-Term AS Benefit Package through employment.


Office of Human Resources (OHR)
  • Provides policy oversight to ensure compliance with campus policy
  • Conducts periodic reviews of the policy with campus human resources departments
  • Implements changes to the policy as needed
  • Provide documents, such as timesheets, required to be in compliance with tracking hours worked for individuals paid on a lump sum pay basis (for ACA purposes)
College/School/Division HR
  • Responsible for monitoring all Student Hourly employee hours of service to ensure they do not exceed an average of 30 hours per week (excluding hours of service credited under a Federal Work Study program) for all UW employment positions held by a particular Student Hourly employee in any 90-day period of time
  • Responsible for approving lump sum Student Hourly appointments, and monitoring the length of the appointment and hours worked in the lump sum appointment to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act
  • Ensures administrators, supervisors, and hiring managers are aware of this policy and comply with its provisions
  • Ensures all eligible student hourly compensation in accordance with the additional pay components listed above and serve as the records custodian for these payments in their employing unit

Link to Related Policies

UW System Administrative Policy 235: Personal Services Payments

Keywords:students, hourly, SH, ACA   Doc ID:65227
Owner:OHR .Group:HR Policies
Created:2016-07-19 11:19 CDTUpdated:2019-07-05 16:10 CDT
Sites:HR Policies
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