Important Policy Information for Employers and Students

Bowdoin College has a long tradition of providing opportunities for Bowdoin students to earn money, contribute to the cost of their education, and gain valuable experience through on-campus work. The Student Employment Office serves to uphold the development and implementation of consistent student employment guidelines across departments. Read on for more information.

Where Do I Begin?

Getting Paid - Payroll Policies

Visit our Getting Paid page for details on student rates of pay, tax information, etc.

Working Hour Limits

Supervisors must create student work schedules that are in compliance with the policies set forth by Bowdoin HR and by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Hours Per Week - Academic Year

  • Student employees may not work more than 20 hours per week while classes or exams are in session.
  • 20 hours per week is the total for all weekly hours in all positions worked.
  • Employers should never allow an international student to exceed 20 hours per week during the academic year or 40 hours per week during designated breaks as this would constitute a violation of visa restrictions and could have serious consequences for the student.

Hours Per Week - Breaks and Summer

  • Student employees may may work up to and not more than 40 hours per week during the winter, spring, and summer breaks.
  • During fall break, students may exceed 20 hours per week, but the total number of hours should be within reason and at the discretion of the student's supervisor.
  • Students should not be scheduled to work overtime. However, in cases where an inadvertent overtime situation occurs, the department will be required to pay the student overtime wages. See Payroll Policies for more information.

Working Hours Limit Waiver Requests

  • The SEO rarely accepts working hours waiver limits. If you have a one-time, extraordinary circumstance, you must notify the SEO in advance. 
  • If a student works in more than one department and expects a temporary increase in hours, the student should contact their other team members to see if a shift replacement can be found.
  • To be clear, most work time increases are expected and a student and supervisor are responsible for making arrangements to keep the student’s working hours under 20.

Rest and Meal Breaks

Students must abide by the College's meal break policy that is in compliance with the policies set forth by Bowdoin HR and by the State of Maine.

  • Maine law requires that most employees be given at least a thirty minute unpaid rest break (that may be a meal break) after six hours of work. (Maine statute)
  • This unpaid rest break must be recorded in Workday.
  • Students and supervisors are both responsible for requiring and recording meal breaks.
  • In exceptional circumstances, an employee may voluntarily request that this meal break be waived in order to accommodate an alternative schedule. If the supervisor approves, the employee and the supervisor must document the alternative schedule in writing to Student Employment, noting that it is voluntary and may be discontinued by either party at any time. The SEO will provide a Meal Break Waiver Form in situations where this agreement is approved.
  • Breaks or rest periods of no more than 15 minutes, although not required by state law, may be permitted with the supervisor's permission.
  • Unused breaks cannot be accumulated for later use, late arrival or early dismissal, or credited for paid time off.
  • In certain working conditions (e.g., extreme heat or cold), more frequent breaks may be approved.
  • Also, view the tab below called Travel regarding meal breaks on the road.


Student employees are not benefits eligible. They do not receive holiday pay, sick pay, unemployment benefits, jury duty pay, or vacation pay.

Confidentiality Agreement

All student employees who will be exposed to any type of sensitive information in their position, will be required to sign the student Confidentiality Agreement at the start of employment and at the beginning of each year in that position/department. Save these documents for your records at your own office and email a copy to SEO.  We will attach the signed agreement to the students Workday account.  

Disciplinary Action and Termination

Working on-campus provides an opportunity for students to learn, gain valuable job experience, and earn wages while at Bowdoin. Because it is a privilege, the hiring and rehiring of student employees happens on a semester-by-semester basis.

Students are responsible to understand and uphold the requirements of their job position. If a student does not meet job performance expectations, then supervisors must document each incident of concern in writing (e.g. via email or paper file). The student and area supervisor need to receive a copy of this document.

If a supervisor needs to terminate a student’s employment, three (3) documented incidents must be filed. If the student’s performance is so egregious that a supervisor feels the need to immediately terminate a student’s employment, the supervisor must first consult with the Student Employment Office to determine a course of action. Disciplinary action taken by supervisors with student employees is subject to the same terms and conditions described by the Bowdoin Human Resources Employee Handbook and, in some cases, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs may also be brought in to review the incident.

Generally, documenting and discussing the incident with a student employee is all that is necessary to remedy the situation. If the student employee is at risk for termination, supervisors must hold a conversation with the student employee letting the individual know this outcome is approaching in advance of the termination.

The Student Employment Office can also offer mediation in difficult situations.

Employment Verification Policy

Off-Campus employers may seek to verify an applicant's employment history. Requests for salary information or employment verification for current or past student employees should all be referred to the Student Employment Office. It is the policy of Bowdoin College to verify only dates of employment and the employing department of former or current student employees. We cannot release wage information without written permission from the employee, nor do we supply qualitative information regarding performance, medical history, or reason for termination.

Current and former student employees must complete and submit a Release of Directory Information (FERPA) Form to the Student Employment office for each requesting person or agency.

FICA Exemption

During the academic year, students are exempt from paying FICA taxes. Bowdoin strictly follows the federal guidelines for FICA Exemption. Students may not work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session in order to maintain compliance with the FICA exemption which requires education to be each student's primary pursuit at the college. 

During the summer, when students are not enrolled in classes, students work hours are limited to 40 hours per week. (See policy on Working Hours.) Each student will then begin to see FICA taxes withheld on their paychecks.

Name Changes and Gender Policies

To begin the process to change the name you officially use at Bowdoin, please contact the Office of the Registrar. The Registrar will notify Human Resources, Student Employment, and the Controller’s Office (Payroll) of your name change. 

To be eligible to work on campus, students must complete the Federal I-9, Federal and State W-4, and Direct Deposit forms. These forms do not require a statement about sex or gender; however, the forms do require your legal name. If a student at Bowdoin would like to make a change to their name, and if that name change would be associated with that employee's official identification documents and bank accounts, you will need to re-submit updated versions of your employment paperwork.

While many policies governing student employment are subject to federal regulations and oversight, staff in the Student Employment Office will help transgender students navigate processes relevant to changes in name and/or listed sex.


Bowdoin Student Employment abides by the College's nepotism policy, found here in the HR Employee Handbook.

Overlapping Working Hours

Bowdoin students are allowed to work in multiple campus positions. However, they may not work simultaneous hours in those jobs. For example, a student who is staffing a reception desk in one department may not grade papers for another department at the same time, regardless of the student's perceived ability to do so competently. Students violating this policy may be subject to disciplinary action which may include referral to the Judicial Board or other disciplinary measures that the individual situation may warrant.

Performance Evaluations

The best way to ensure that a supervisor and a student employee are satisfied with performance and workplace expectations is to keep a regular and open dialogue. We’ve found a good way to start this process is to thoughtfully complete a Student Employee Performance Evaluation together each semester or summer session.

Recommendation Letters and Reference Requests

Students are encouraged to ask supervisors to serve as an employment reference. Helpful Tips:

  • Let your supervisor know the type of positions to which you will be applying.
  • Give your supervisor an idea of what you'd like your supervisor to say about you as a candidate.
  • If you need your supervisor to write you a letter of recommendation, ask at least two weeks in advance and provide the contact's name, address, and any instructions regarding the submission of the letter.

Bowdoin strongly encourages campus supervisors to serve as a reference for student employees. Different from an employment verification, you may provide letters of recommendation or serve as a phone reference for your student workers.  Below are a few guidelines.

  • Whenever possible, please use Bowdoin letterhead.
  • Be truthful and positive. 
  • Be honest with students. Decline requests if you are unable to offer a positive letter of recommendation. Encourage the student to seek an alternate sources of reference.
  • A letter of reference should not include rates of pay, medical history, or reasons for the student leaving the position. Requests for salary information or employment verification should be referred to the SEO.
  • Questions about what may be appropriate or requests for review and guidance may be directed to HR.

Sexual Misconduct, Gender Based Violence, and Freedom from Harassment

Student employees must remember that they are employees whose actions are governed by college, state, and federal employment laws.

"Bowdoin College prohibits any member of the faculty, staff, administration, student body, or visitors, whether visiting campus, patrons, independent contractors, or vendors from harassing or discriminating against any other member of the Bowdoin College community because of a person’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, age, marital status, place of birth, veteran status or against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in any phase of its employment process, in any phase of its admission or financial aid programs, or other aspects of its educational programs or activities."

Any member of the College community has the right to report any instance of sexual misconduct, gender based violence, or harassment without fear of reprisal and is encouraged to report such instances for the good of the community. Take active steps to promote a civil, harassment-free work environment.

Travel - Paid or Unpaid?

Students are not paid or reimbursed for travel, unless it's related specifically to work. Student employees must be paid an hourly wage during their travel time (read below) and the student should be reimbursed for travel expenses according to Bowdoin College policy.


  • Students should be paid for travel to an event where work will be performed. However, a student would not be paid for travel to a meeting area or for waiting for a vehicle.
    • For example, if an employee is asked to meet at the polar bear statue to wait for a bus that will take them to the event at which they will work, the employee would not be paid for their travel time to the polar bear statue from their home in Harpswell. The employee must be paid for the travel time on the bus.
  • Students should be paid for making deliveries. It's not appropriate to ask a student to "clock out" and then make a delivery.


  • A student should not be paid for travel to and from home and work or class and work.
  • Student employees are not paid for meal breaks during the normal course of work or during travel. If you think your student position might pose an exception, please contact the SEO.
  • Students are not paid for wait time before or after an event. Employees are paid for work performed and for time on duty.
    • For example, if the bus leaves at noon for Bates, and the bus arrives at 12:30pm, the student is paid for half an hour of travel time. But let’s assume the game starts at 3:00pm, and the student won’t start working until half an hour before the game starts. The student would not be paid for the two hours between 12:30pm and 2:30pm. Likewise, if the game ends at 6:00pm, and the bus doesn’t arrive until 7:00pm, the student is not paid for the hour of wait time.

Unauthorized Access Policy

When necessary for the performance of work-related duties, Bowdoin College student employees may receive keys and/or electronic card access to various spaces on campus. Student employees may only access these spaces (rooms, labs, buildings, cabinets, etc.) as required under the terms of their employment. Unauthorized access to any space is strictly prohibited. Students violating this policy may be subject to disciplinary action which may include referral to the Judicial Board or other disciplinary measures that the individual situation may warrant.

Volunteer Positions On Campus

There are very specific guidelines for volunteer positions on Bowdoin's campus. These guidelines are as follows:

  • A student cannot volunteer services when another student is paid to perform similar work on campus.
  • A student employee currently in a hourly wage position can not be asked to work without compensation for additional time to do the same or similar work for which they are employed.
  • A student employee who has been offered an hourly wage position should be compensated for training.
  • Student volunteers must be clearly informed, prior to services rendered, that the student will not be compensated.
  • Volunteers must also receive educational or curricular benefit from the job experience.

To ensure that your volunteer position does not violate the law, you must contact Student Employment prior to offering the volunteer position to be certain that your department is in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the policies established by the College.

Workplace Safety and Ergonomics Considerations

Students and supervisors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Bowdoin's Workplace Safety Guidelines and be knowledgeable about where to turn in the event of an accident or injury.

Please also visit the Bowdoin Facilities Management webpage on ergonomic recommendations and other safety-related topics.