> >What is happening is due to the way labor laws classify employees. Employees are either exempt (salary), non-exempt (hourly), or independent contractors. Students are classified as independent contractors. Whether or not the employer issues a W2 is irrelevant to the employeeČ??s classification.
Unfortunately, because labor laws and workers compensation regulations are administered on a state by state basis and interpreted by employers and relevant insurance companies, this summary is too broad to describe individual cases. In some situations, at some institutions, students may be treated as independent contractors, but in many cases they are considered employees, with the same legal rights and responsibilities as other employees. This can vary by funding source. For example, my son currently has a NSF fellowship for graduate study and is considered an employee of the federal government in some, but not all, respects.
Of course, these rights and responsibilities can be impacted by union contracts for specific groups within the institution. For example at Keene State we have 4 separate union contracts associated with faculty and various segments of the staff.
In sum, there are few general principles that apply across the academic workforce and this situation seems to be spreading with the rise of the gig economy. See
for the latest on this.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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