A new FAQ on OFCCP’s website offers additional guidance on student workers when it comes to federal contractors’ Affirmative Action Plans (AAP). According to OFCCP, a student worker is “a student, undergraduate or graduate, engaged in research, teaching, work-study, or another related or comparable position at an educational institution.”
It’s important for contractors to differentiate “employees” versus “student workers” as it pertains to their compliance. The key component in recognizing student workers lies in their primary working relationship being a result of their educational connection to the school and their studies. While general employees must be included in a contractor’s AAP, it is optional to include student worker data. Whether or not you include student workers, OFCCP says it will not consider those numbers when determining if an organization is in violation of its obligations.
With that in mind, contractors can save themselves time and effort by not including student workers in their own data. In fact, OFCCP cites the burdensome task and complication of compliance evaluations when student workers are included in the data. Furthermore, information on student workers is generally too small of a sample and lacks overall value, as there is often quick turnover in these positions and relatively modest amounts of applicants.
One caveat to keep in mind: OFCCP will accept employment discrimination complaints from student workers (or on their behalf). If a complaint arises, OFCCP staff will work to determine if the student worker in question could be considered an “employee,” thus earning protection under OFCCP.