New York, NY (Law Firm Newswire) November 07, 2019 - Lipsky Lowe LLP partner, Douglas Lipsky, was quoted in a recent Teen Vogue feature article about minimum wage rules for college students. The article notes that students who work on campus in many states can be paid less than the state minimum wage when working on campus.
Generally, nonprofit educational organizations are exempt from certain provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when hiring student workers. The exemption allows these employers to pay full-time students “subminimum wage” for on campus work. That rate is set at 75 percent of the federal minimum wage or a percentage of the applicable state minimum wage as long as it is higher.
The subminimum wage exemption has an impact particularly on low-income students that rely on federal work-study programs. While some may question the fairness of the exemption, it is perfectly legal. Douglas Lipksy explained that such exemptions “apply to students attending and working at a nonprofit university leading to a degree or certification.”
“If those two requirements are met, generally the law will say those students do not have to be paid minimum wage or overtime,” he said.
In addition to the subminimum wage exemption, the number of hours students can work on campus jobs are usually capped at 20 hours per week. While study wages are determined by the schools, in accordance with Department of Labor rules, critics believe that these laws exploit vulnerable workers, including students, tipped workers, and the disabled. Until the exceptions are revisited by lawmakers, however, students need to take the initiative to earn more pay.
Mr. Lipksy advised that “students should position themselves as being willing to take on more responsibility. They should tell the university that they want to be paid more, and they also want to do more.”
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