UW-Eau Claire Director of Human Resources announces 25-hour a week cap for student employees

New work hour cap may pose problems for both the university and its students going forward.

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Members of the Events Production Crew(From left to right) Rachel Simonet, Cammy Rathsack and Meghan Stanford.

Photo by Gabriel Lagarde

Members of the Events Production Crew(From left to right) Rachel Simonet, Cammy Rathsack and Meghan Stanford.

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UW-Eau Claire will be implementing a weekly 25-hour cap for student employees starting next year in a new policy that opens opportunities for some students while forcing others to look off-campus for employment.

Director of Human Resources David Miller announced the changes at the Chancellor’s Roundtable on Nov. 18. Miller said the policy reflects efforts by the UW-System to accommodate restrictions by the Affordable Care Act, which states any employee who works more than 30 hours a week is entitled to corporate healthcare coverage.

Currently, the UW-System will be penalized $48 million in 2017 if these changes aren’t made by the beginning of next year.

All student employees will now be paid on an hourly basis. While there will be exceptions, only the director of human resources can approve alternative payment forms, Miller said. In all cases, students must report their hours and for students employed in multiple on-campus jobs, the cap applies to cumulative hours worked on campus.

The cap applies to the academic year, Miller said, and this will allow students to work more than 25 hours per week during summer, winter and semester breaks.

In the case of room advisors, who are on-call for long periods of time, determining the number of work hours is difficult, Miller said. Clearer guidelines will be outlined in the future.

Exemptions also include senior student body leaders and undergraduate teaching assistants. The university is looking into paying them through financial aid, which does not come into conflict with the Affordable Care Act.

While the new policy will create more jobs on campus, Chancellor James C. Schmidt said the loss of work hours will force some students to consider other options.

“There’s some really tough cases where students have no choice but to try to find that work,” Schmidt said, “and we know this might end up pushing some students off-campus, which isn’t as good of a solution.”

Members of the university’s Events Production Crew expressed concerns that the cap will hurt more than students’ savings accounts.

The cap will force the university to pick and choose what events it can support, Cammy Rathsack, a senior Spanish education student, said.  Many EPC employees undergo 40 hours at the beginning of the year to prepare for large campus events. Without their technical skill, she said, the university suffers.