Students, as every employer knows, are the last bastion of cheap labour who will do anything for drinking money.   Or so the legend goes…  In fact, most students working to pay off their student loans over the summer will be better informed of their rights in the workplace than ever before, and are likely to have high expectations of how they should be treated, as well as clear career aspirations.  So how do you deal with this well informed, intelligent and articulate summertime population?

  1. Although many organisations would seek to treat students as “casual workers” or “seasonal workers”, it is likely that most are, in fact, employees.
  2. Ideally, basic terms and conditions for their fixed term employment should be set out in writing (to satisfy the requirements of section 1 ERA Particulars of Employment).
  3. If you don’t get on with your students, you do not need to give statutory notice to terminate the contract during the first four weeks of work – provided you haven’t given them better protection in their contracts.  Beyond those initial four weeks, you must give at least the statutory minimum notice of one week to end the contract.
  4. Student employees have a statutory minimum right to annual paid leave of 20 days (including public holidays).  This should be given pro-rata for a fixed term contract.
  5. Tax!  NICs!  If you intend to treat your students as casual workers, they should take responsibility for tax and NICs, and this should be clear in their contract.  If not, check their tax status.
  6. As part of their written terms, require students to abide by certain basic standards of behaviour, eg. adhering to working times.
  7. If you are using your students as data inputters, or they are handling data at all, ensure that they are aware of Data Protection rules about keeping personal information confidential, and understand the importance of this.
  8. Don’t assume all your students will have the same attitude towards social events; as a matter of religious or lifestyle choice, some may prefer not to be involved in certain group activities.  Ensure there is a wide enough range of activities to involve all employees, including your summer students.
  9. All workers and employees are protected against discrimination under all the protected classes: race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion and belief.  As of October, age will be a grounds of protection!
  10. Listen to your summer students. They are intelligent people in your midst with fresh ideas who may be able to teach you a thing or two!

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