The new university term is upon us once again and across the country students have returned to their halls and houses, ready to start another year of study. For many, that study will also be accompanied by some time spent doing part time work, whether to help fund a course, or something to look forward to at the end. A 2015 study found that 77% of students now work while studying. Students can be a very positive part of a workforce but, if you’re going to recruit them, here's some tips to keep you on the right side of employment law.
Avoid advertising for students
Age discrimination applies to adverts too and so advertising exclusively for students (e.g. “students wanted”) can put you at risk of being the subject of a discrimination claim.
Do your students have a right to work?
If they are not British, or from within the European Economic Area, there may be restrictions on the number of hours a student can work while studying. Make sure you have documentary evidence of their right to work and a letter from the institution where they are studying that shows term dates and enrolment.
Zero hours contracts
Zero hours contracts have not had good press recently. However, they are still an attractive prospect to students who are looking to work flexibly. Make sure you understand the point at which employment status and protections change with respect to zero hours workers. Steer clear of clauses that oblige you to provide a certain number of hours and avoid completely those that require a student to work for you exclusively.
Part-time workers have rights too
It’s important when employing students to make sure that they are not being treated any less favourably than full time employees. For example, part-time employees should receive the same rate of pay – pro rata – as a full time employee and you must take care to ensure they have access to benefits such as holiday entitlement and taking national bank holiday days off.
Part-time workers are as entitled to be paid the Minimum Wage as full time workers. Take care to ensure that, if you are paying Minimum Wage or close to that amount, you adjust this as the employee gets older. There are different bands that kick in at ages 18, 21 and 25. As of 1 October this year, the rates have increased as follows:
- 3.7% increase in the rate for 21 to 24 year olds from £6.70 to £6.95 per hour
- 4.7% increase in the rate for 18 to 20 year olds from £5.30 to £5.55
- 3.4% increase in the rate for 16 to 17 year olds from £3.87 to £4.00
If you are already auto-enrolling certain workers into a pension scheme then you need to make sure you don’t miss obligations due to part-time workers. This depends a lot on how often they work for you and, ultimately, how much they earn. Someone working a few hours one day a week may not qualify but a lengthy period of employment over a break in term time could trigger this. Remember that even if you don’t auto-enrol a student yourself they may still have the right to opt in to your pension scheme.
Concerns about employment law? Contact our specialist employment solictors in Lancaster and Preston on 01524 38500 or click here.