When student employees leave their positions, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, supervisors and departments should have a clear understanding of the process to ensure a learning experience for student employees and a smooth transition for departments. Typical voluntary reasons for student employee separation include graduation, finding another position, or resigning to focus more on school.
Upon a separation, departments may wish to create off-boarding procedures and an exit interview to make sure that all university property is returned and that the student employee has an opportunity to provide input on his or her experience as a student employee. IUPUI has an exit interview online survey, which student employees are also encouraged to complete.
Sample exit interview questions, which could be asked by the supervisor or a third party, include:
- Tell me about your experience as a student employee with us.
- What was the most rewarding aspect of your experience?
- What was the most frustrating aspect of your experience?
- If you could keep one thing about your position, what would it be?
- What is one thing you would change about your position?
- What training or team-building opportunities would you like future student employees to experience?
Click here for another sample exit interview protocol, which can be tailored to capture department and position-specific information.
For involuntary separations (and descriptions of voluntary separations, which will be used in the separation process), Human Resources Administration provides a listing and description of termination and separation reasons, which can be used to help supervisors determine the most appropriate course of action, as well as repercussions of pursuing a specific type of termination.
Alternatives to Termination:
What on- or off-campus opportunities exist to provide the student employee with knowledge, skills, or abilities to enhance his or her performance?
Mediation and Facilitated Discussions:
Could a neutral third party help the student employee and supervisor communicate more effectively and resolve disputes or areas of misunderstanding expectations? Contact your human resources professional to identify mediators or facilitators.
The IUPUI Employee Relations department
provides management and employees with independent counsel regarding employment concerns.
Could you offer the student employee the option of resigning in lieu of termination?
Termination and Separation Guidance:
Indiana is an at-will state. No notice period is required when the university separates an hourly employee from employment, although at least two weeks advance notice is encouraged. One of the most important pieces of guidance for supervisors to consider when determining whether or not to terminate a student employee is that it should very rarely be a surprise to the student employee that he or she is being terminated. This understanding assumes the student has been through a progressive discipline process (see the IU Corrective Action Policy) and has had multiple conversations with his or her supervisor, as well as had opportunities to improve his or her performance.
The most typical situations that result in an involuntary separation for student employees after going through a progressive discipline process include:
- Attendance: Chronic unscheduled absences, tardiness, or early departures.
- Misconduct: Conflict of interest, insubordination, or sleeping on the job.
Job Abandonment: Employee stops coming to work and does not contact the department in any way.
Unsatisfactory Work Performance: Failed to meet expectations of the positions.
There are, of course, circumstances in which the best course of action may be a more timely termination (these should be reviewed by Human Resources Administration before the termination), including:
Workplace Violence: Violation of the policies regarding threatening or violent behavior in the workplace.
Falsification: Falsifying time cards, application for employment, ghost employment, etc.
Gross Misconduct: Substance abuse, pornography, or felony charges.
Misuse of University Property: Taking or using university property or the property of students, employees, or visitors without permission for personal gain or benefit (e.g., theft).
Sexual Harassment: Violation of the sexual harassment policy.
Be sure to consult the full list of termination/separation reasons, IU policies for temporary employees (which includes hourly and work-study student employees), as well as your human resource representative when determining the best course of action for a student employee separation.
Understanding the Process:
- Supervisors should gather available documentation related to the reason for termination.
- Supervisors should develop a written letter containing the student employee’s effective date of termination, reason(s) for termination, last pay date, request to return equipment/university property, implications of the termination (e.g., if his or her personnel record may be flagged per the termination/separation reasons), and areas for both the supervisor and student employee to sign and acknowledge.
- Supervisors should initiate a conversation with the student employee to deliver the letter, documentation, and explain the decision. Student employment is a learning process, and the students need to understand why they are being terminated from a position. If the student employee has further questions or concerns, he or she can contact Human Resources Administration. The payroll processor should initiate a termination eDoc in HRMS with the effective date of termination. If the termination is involuntary or performance based, add a note describing the incident(s) and reason(s) for the termination.
- Most terminations are voluntary and will be processed as “end of casual employment, resignation, or work-study limit reached,” and these action reasons will NOT flag a student/employee record in any adverse way. However, there are several action reasons that will cause a permanent flag on the student/employee record. Involuntary terminations will permanently flag the student's IU employee record, which will alert departments when hiring the student in the future.
- Some termination reasons will create a flag, but the student/employee is still eligible for rehire; however, the employment would be considered conditional (e.g., attendance, unsatisfactory performance).
- Some termination reasons create a flag that make the student/employee ineligible for rehire at Indiana University ever again (e.g., sexual harassment, gross misconduct, theft, falsification).
- Acknowledge the student employee’s contributions during his or her time with the department.
- Explain to the student employee when his or her last day of employment will be, as well as the last pay day.
- Request to have the student employee return any equipment or university property.
- Be succinct in your explanation of the decision to terminate. Since the decision has been made, it is important to not open up the conversation to argue or bargain unless there are other alternatives to be pursued.
- Remember that student jobs are learning experiences for students to gain transferable skills and to develop as professionals.
- If a student is being terminated for performance-based issues, it is the supervisor's responsibility to explain to the student why he or she is being terminated and what can be done differently in the future to prevent the situation from occurring again.
After a Separation:
It is important for student employee supervisors to reflect after a separation to both improve their own skills as well as to continue to ensure a meaningful experience for future student employees. Some questions to consider include:
- Does the position description need to be updated?
- How will you communicate the separation to other student employees and colleagues in your office?
- Does the recruiting and screening process need to be updated to ensure your next student employee is successful?
- What characteristics will you look for in future student employees you hire?