Managing Student Employees

Setting expectations, balancing work and school schedules, following pay regulations, and providing feedback and development opportunities are important parts of managing student employees at PSU. Below are tips and requirements for supervisors. Need help? Contact HR at 503.725.4926 for guidance on supervising student employees.

Hours of Work | Overtime | Attendance & Punctuality | Sign In and Out Systems | Creating a Developmental Environment | Training | Evaluations | Recognition


Hours of Work

Student employees are “students first” and their first priority is the fulfillment of academic requirements. It is recommended that student employee schedules be revised each term as class schedules change. 

  • It is strongly recommended that student employees work 20 hours per week or less. Student employees may not be required to work more than 130 hours per pay period due to the demands of their course loads. 
  • International students on F-1 visas are restricted by federal law to work no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.
  • Students in Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant positions must adhere to the terms of their appointment, including approximate number of hours per week. 


Student employees are hourly employees. It is not recommended that students are scheduled for over 40 hours per week at anytime. Since they are "overtime- eligible", if they work over 40 hours in a week, they must receive overtime pay at the rate of time and one half for all time that is worked over 40 hours in a work week. For example, if a student works 41 hours in a workweek, the first 40 hours are compensated at the regular rate of pay and 1 hour is compensated at time and one half.

PSU is the single employer of record, which means that if a student employee has more than one job at PSU, all hours count toward the 40 hours per week overtime calculation. If a student works over 40 hours in a work week, overtime pay will be distributed equally between the employing departments. Please note: Federal work study does not cover overtime wages.

PSU pays for all hours worked. Student employees must be paid for all time worked, including overtime. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring students record all time worked.

Attendance & Punctuality

Good attendance and punctuality are important to the effective operations of the University. It is the standard expectation of all departments on campus that student employees arrive to work and are ready to start at their scheduled time. It is up to the supervisor to communicate the department’s standard protocol about who to contact when student employees are late or unable to be at work, that they should do so in advance of their scheduled shift and should be instructed as to the specific method to communicate (telephone, email, or text). In addition, supervisors should establish procedures for requesting and confirming planned time off.

It is advisable that Supervisors have a consistent attendance and punctuality protocol for all student employees in their area. The protocol should include these elements:

Statement of Expectation – Student employees are expected to be at their work stations and working at the beginning of their shift. (not just arriving and getting coffee ) Student employees must use the sign-in/out system at the start and end of their shifts and when taking breaks and lunch. The system may include getting a supervisor to initial the entries each day, or an automated clock in/out system.

Reporting Absence and Lateness - In cases when student employees are ill or absent from work on a scheduled day, they need to follow the department’s requirement to call, email or text their Supervisor or identified office contact in advance of the shift starting time when possible. They should inform the supervisor about the absence and the expected duration. They must call, email, or text in advance for each shift they will be absent. The same protocol should be followed for lateness by calling the direct supervisor, talk live and provide the estimated time of arrival. This must be done for each occurrence of lateness or need to leave a shift early. The actual time of arrival and departure should be recorded in the time keeping systems.

Scheduling Planned Time-Off – Students often have demanding academic schedules and may want to schedule time off at various times during the school term. Supervisors are encouraged to be as accommodating as possible, and should coach student employees to be proactive in requesting time-off with as much advance notice as possible. It is advisable that departments establish a protocol for requesting time-off that may utilize email or a written form to document the request. Supervisors should be timely in responding to the request for planned time-off. In cases when the request falls at an extremely demanding time for the department, Supervisors should work with the student employee to make reasonable adjustments to the schedule if possible.

Sign In and Out Systems

It is strongly recommended that in addition to the Web Time Entry system for payroll, that departments maintain some type of sign-in and out system. (Several departments have implemented an automated clock-in/out system; please speak with HR if you want to learn more about this option.) This can be as simple as maintaining a sign-in/out book with pages for each student in your area, that requires the supervisor’s review and approval of the daily entries. If interested in more information, please ask your HR Partner.

Creating a Developmental Environment

Respect - It is the responsibility of every Supervisor to create a workplace that treats everyone with respect, courtesy, and appreciation while maintaining a safe and productive environment. Student employees should be accorded the same respect and dignity as all members of the department and it is the responsibility of all employees to comply with PSU’s Professional Standards of Conduct in word and spirit.

Coaching - All Supervisors and those who direct the work of students should view themselves as workplace coaches. Ongoing and informal instruction, clarification, performance feedback, and offering context and background to information about processes and activities will serve to support the growth and development of student employees. Providing thoughtful, respectful and timely feedback is important for student employee learning. 

Student employees may be receptive to different types of communication styles and feedback. When giving feedback, supervisors should be sensitive to different styles and cultures. Students may have different levels of comfort expressing needs and concerns to their supervisors. Supervisors should ask questions and check for understanding, “Is this clear?” Do you prefer instructions in writing or by listening?” “May I review your notes?” “Am I explaining this is a way that is helpful?” “What questions do you have for me at this time?” These are examples of how to engage in effective two-way communication.

It is advisable to “check in” periodically with their student employees. Visit occasionally and inquire about how their work is going and if they have need of further information, training or support. When a supervisor sees emerging performances issues with a particular student employee, the supervisor should meet privately with the student employee to discuss the problem and potential solutions.

Conduct on the Job: Supervisors should clearly communicate behavioral expectations for student employees and hold them accountable to those expectations. Supervisors are advised to contact the HR Employee Relations team for support in dealing with issues of conduct. Doing so early, before the problem escalates if always most effective. It is the responsibility of the managing supervisor to ensure that every student employee successfully completes the required "Creating a Culture of Respect" learning module available on D2L.


A student employee’s training and professional development should continue through the duration of the student’s employment. This continued training can be accomplished through a variety of fun and creative ways. Some examples include:

Job Shadow - The new employee shadows a veteran employee and receives further instruction and 1:1 training.

Staff Meetings - Invite student employees to full meetings, segments of meetings or specific staff meetings where the agenda is well-suited to their work. In certain circumstances arranging for a student employee to facilitate a portion of a staff meeting may be an effective way to cover a topic and help develop his/her leadership skills.

Training Workshop - Arrange a training workshop for your student employees. A workshop can take advantage of on-campus resources and allow for opportunities to strengthen team communication.

Develop Leadership Skills - Supervisors should continuously provide feedback about leadership opportunities on campus. For instance, encourage your student employees to attend student leadership lunches and the annual student leadership conference. Supervisors could host a brown bag luncheon for their student employees on topics such as informational interviewing, job-related professional development, and any other desired topics.

Conferences - Some departments have a fund specifically allocated for students to attend regional and national conferences. This allows students a professional development opportunity to apply for a grant or scholarship to pay for their registration. This is a great chance for student employees to network and build relationships in their career field.

One-on-One Mentorship - Supervisors hold an influential role with their student employees and should provide one-on-one mentorship in an effort to assist developing student employees. College is an important time in student lives and feedback and guidance from supervisors can be key in assisting students with their future goals.


Student employees benefit from feedback about their work performance. Although official performance evaluations are not required by HR for student employees, supervisors may use their discretion to provide performance feedback to their student employees as an informal discussion or through a written appraisal format. Supervisors may use or modify appraisal forms in use at PSU, including the template provided on the Policies, Contracts, and Forms page. The general guidelines provided for employee performance management may also be used for student employees.


There are many methods of rewarding student employees. Simple gestures such as a hand-written note of praise or treating a student employee to lunch can carry far more weight than a pay increase. Some departments on campus have recognized students as “employees of the month” while others host potlucks or pizza parties.

Student Employee Appreciation (SEA) - PSU formally recognizes student employees at the annual SEA Week event. The reception typically occurs in April. Departments are encouraged to nominate their outstanding students to be PSU’s Student Employee of the Year. Typically, the nomination form is available in January and due in mid-February. All student employees are invited and the event is a great opportunity to thank student employees for their contributions to the University.