Freshers’ week is over and university courses are commencing, which means many students are now starting to look for ways in which they can boost their student loan with some part-time work. If you are thinking about employing students at your workplace, here are some of the things you need to consider.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have revealed that 20 per cent of people on zero-hour contracts are in full-time education. Although zero-hour contracts have received negative attention over the past few years, students may welcome this type of contract; however, it is important that you are clear about employment protection and the status of your workers if you are going to be using such contracts.
Even with zero-hour contracts, people can still have an employee status; therefore, mutuality of obligation is one of the factors that needs to be taken into consideration. This covers whether you are obliged to offer hours to the workers and whether they are obliged to take these offered hours. Although an employer can require workers to accept the hours they are given, any clauses that demand exclusivity and prevent them from working for someone else are prohibited.
There can be some limitations on how many hours a student from outside the EU can work whilst they are studying; therefore, you should always check for these limitations. You will already have had to check their documents to see whether they can work in the UK; in addition, you should check with the institution with which they are studying to see their term dates for the time they will be employed with you.
National minimum wage bands
As students can fall into different wage bands for the national minimum wage (NWM), it is important that you familiarise yourself with these. The bands are the under 18s; 18- to 20-year-olds; 21- to 24-year-olds; and 25-year-olds and over. If you employ a student who is going to pass into a different band while they are working for you, it is vital that you have recorded their birthday so that you can move them into the next band accordingly.
The rate at which they should be paid comes into play on the first day of a pay period; therefore, if an employee turns 21 whilst they are working for you, they are entitled to the higher NMW from the first day of the new pay reference period after their birthday.
Don’t restrict yourself to students
Even if you think a student would be the perfect fit for a role for which you are recruiting, don’t limit your advert or recruitment efforts to students. If you do, you could be putting yourself at risk of being seen as discriminating against older candidates who may have been just as good a fit for the job. Avoid phrases such as ‘student wanted’ in your job adverts.
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