Information for Supervisors

How to Create a Job

Student Employment Management System (SEMS)
A work-study student may only work for a supervisor who has a SEMS account and job listing. The Student Employment Management System (SEMS) is the method by which faculty and staff can create and post work-study and/or non-work-study jobs online.

Click here to log in to SEMS. If you do not already have an account, you can follow the on-screen directions to create one. To create a job, click Jobs in the menu bar. On the next screen select the Period (academic year or summer), and then click Create New Job.

Please note: The use of work-study student labor on non-University or personal projects is considered a misuse of federal or University funds and is forbidden. Violators will be subject to University sanctions and penalties.

Federal Work-Study Community Service
Federal Work-Study students are encouraged to pursue employment that is community service-related. Community service positions contribute to the improvement in the quality of life for area residents by helping solve particular problems related to their needs. Job categories that are considered community service include:

  • Health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial service), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response.
  • Support services to enrolled students with disabilities
  • Activities in which a student serves as a mentor for purposes such as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

Per the U.S. Department of Education, students may be employed in community service positions that provide either direct or indirect services to the community. For example, it is acceptable for a Federal Work-Study student to be employed in a clerical position for a food bank. It is not required that the student be involved in delivering services directly.

Both on-campus and off-campus jobs can qualify as community service work. However, on-campus jobs must involve a program, project, or service that is provided to the general public in the local community. On-campus jobs that serve only the campus community do not qualify as community service employment.

Hiring Students

Work-Study Students

The supervisor must request a copy of the student’s class schedule at the time of the interview in order to ensure there is no conflict between class times and the work schedule.

Once you have chosen the student you wish to hire, the supervisor will log in to the Student Employment Management System (SEMS) and click Students in the menu. On the next screen, enter the student’s Penn ID number in the Student Lookup field. The student’s name and award will appear on the Student Details screen. Click appoint at the top of the screen.

An e-mail confirming the student's job appointment will be sent to the student, supervisor, and department SEMS coordinator.

New student employees are required to complete onboarding, which includes filling out federal forms, W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate), and I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), in Workday@Penn. The employing department's business administrator will begin the onboarding process, and instructions will be sent to the student employee via e-mail. After completing the online onboarding tasks in Workday@Penn, new student employees will complete in-person tasks at Onboard@Penn located on campus.

Students who are current employees or have been employed by Penn in the past 18 months will not go through the onboarding process.

International Students are limited to on-campus employment, which is defined as working for Penn, on Penn payroll, and on Penn premises.

New international student employees need a valid Social Security Number in order to work in the United States. The instructions and application for Social Security: On-Campus Work Authorization for F-1 and J-1 Students are available on the International Student and Scholar Services website.

Student Workers (Non-Work-Study)

The appointment of a non-work-study student is handled directly by the employing department's business administrator. New student employees are required to complete onboarding, which includes filling out a federal forms, W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate), and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), in Workday@Penn. The employing department's business administrator will begin the onboarding process, and instructions will be sent to the student employee via e-mail. After completing the online onboarding tasks in Workday@Penn, new student employees will complete in-person tasks at Onboard@Penn located on campus. 

Students who are current employees or have been employed by Penn in the past 18 months will not go through the onboarding process.

Student Orientation

It is the supervisor's responsibility to familiarize the student employee with the departmental standards of behavior and to make sure the student receives proper training in order to accomplish the tasks assigned.

We recommend that the supervisor review the following topics with the student:

  • Review the job responsibilities so there is a clear understanding of what is expected of the student
  • Review issues of confidentiality and sensitive information
  • Safety and health practices (if applicable)
  • Use of personal electronic devices
  • University Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources
  • In the event of the supervisor's absence, to which other staff member can the student direct problems or questions

Reporting Student Hours

University regulations require that weekly hours must be supported by a listing of clock hours worked for each student.

Beginning July 1, all student workers will enter their time on Workday@PennA student’s hours cannot be held for a period of time, and then submitted all at once. University regulations require that a student employee must be paid weekly. The employing department will instruct the student regarding the procedures for entering time in Workday. Supervisors are required to approve weekly timesheets in Workday@Penn.

Workday@Penn Resources: Supervisors may access optional Workday manager time tracking tip sheets and videos, available 24/7, to assist you in navigating Workday@Penn and approving time.

A student cannot be paid for lunch, holidays, sick time, and other time off, or for receiving instruction in the classroom, laboratory, or other academic setting.

Payroll Tax
Work-Study wages are subject to the same federal, state, and local income taxes as any other earned income.

International students have the same taxes withheld that United States students do. Students that are from a country that has a tax treaty with the United States may be able to claim a refund of the taxes withheld when they file their yearly income tax returns. If you have any questions regarding taxation, please go to the Payroll Tax Office, Room 310 of the Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street. The service window hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Wage Rate Increase
The supervisor may increase the student's wage rate at the time of the appointment to a job number, up to the SEMS maximum wage rate of $13.00 per hour. If the wage rate increase occurs after the initial job appointment, or the increase exceeds the SEMS limit of $13.00 per hour, the supervisor must submit the request to the department's business administrator for approval.

Grievance Procedures

A student and supervisor are encouraged to discuss any work-related problems. Experience has shown that most minor disagreements can be resolved by honest, non-confrontational discussion of the problem. An attempt should be made to informally resolve the disagreement between the student and the immediate supervisor. If the problem cannot be resolved within the department, the student should make an appointment with the Manager of Student Employment to discuss the problem. Depending on the problem, a student may be referred to another University office for advice and resolution.

Termination of Employment

If a student is unreliable or does not perform assigned duties responsibly, it may be necessary to terminate the student's employment. A student should be treated fairly and courteously, as would any full-time employee. In most cases, the following disciplinary guidelines are suggested in dealing with unsatisfactory performance. Keep in mind that learning also occurs outside the classroom.

  • Verbal Warning - Speak with the student and give specific reasons for the dissatisfaction as well as suggested solutions for improving job performance. Give the student a time frame for improvement.
  • Written Warning - If the poor performance continues past the time established in the verbal warning, repeat the verbal warning and follow it with a written statement documenting the situation and a new time frame for improvement. A Performance Review Form is available here.
  • Termination - If the student's performance still does not improve within the specified time frame, the supervisor may terminate the student's employment. Notice of dismissal should be in writing, and a copy sent to the Manager of Student Employment. DO NOT terminate a student on Workday for cause. This is not the venue for dealing with student conduct in the workplace. 

Auditing of Federal Work-Study

Federal Title IV regulations require an annual audit of the Federal Work-Study Program. One segment of this review is to ensure that students are correctly paid and that time reporting is properly monitored and certified by the appropriate supervisor.

Failure to comply with the above-mentioned policies and procedures will result in the department having to reimburse the Federal Work-Study account for all applicable student wages. If there is continued failure on the part of the department to comply, then the department will have its privilege of employing Federal Work-Study students suspended.

Verification of Employment

The Division of Human Resources/Information Management/Records maintains personnel records for all present and past employees, including student employees.

Verification requests received by mail and accompanied by written consent should be forwarded to Human Resources/Records, 600 Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street/6205, for inclusion in the student's employment files.

If a call is received by a department from an outside employer seeking employment verification, please instruct the employer to call The Work Number for Everyone at 1-800-996-7566, or go to the website at http://www.theworknumber.com.

Retention of Records

Regulations require that all records supporting federal programs, including the Federal Work-Study Program, must be retained for three years after the end of the award year (academic or summer) for which the aid was awarded and disbursed under the program. Therefore, it is necessary for each department to retain all supporting documents and records for that amount of time.