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Termination and Workplace Issues

Departments are responsible for managing their student employee terminations.  Terminations should be effective the pay period after their job ends.

Any student who will not be working in a job for at least 60 days should be terminated. See additional information and myHR employment record management instructions on HR website for hiring and managing temporary staff.  

Workplace Issues

Northwestern University is an at-will employer meaning that the student employee and their employer may end the employment relationship with or without cause or advance notice. However, student employees and their supervisors are strongly encouraged to engage in conversations to address any issues or concerns as soon as they arise or are remotely identified. Concerns about workplace issues may include but are not limited to, performance, dependability, conduct, responsibility, safety, and compliance with Northwestern policies and procedures. 

Constructive Feedback

To the greatest extent possible, student employees and supervisors should engage in frequent and honest conversations throughout the year in addition to the formal performance evaluation. If necessary, supervisors and student employees should discuss particular observed workplace issues pertaining to performance and proficiency, responsibility, dependability, conduct, safety, and policy compliance and create a mutually agreed-upon improvement goal with a clearly stated timeframe. 

Guided conversation questions and tips are outlined in the Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback presentation from the Office of the Ombudsperson. 

If the issue persists, the supervisor should email the student describing the problem and note the consequences if the behavior is not corrected within a stated timeframe.

Failure to resolve any extenuating workplace issues after steps taken above or any of the noted breaches of integrity outlined below, may lead to involuntary termination. 

Other Workplace Issues

Some issues may require consultation with any of the below office according to the issue at hand: 

  • Complaints of discrimination or harassment based on protected categories can contact the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance (formerly the Office of Equity) at
  • Complaints of or to file a report for sexual misconduct or harassment, visit file-a-report-or-complaint/. 
  • The Office of the Ombudsperson offers an opportunity to discuss and resolve problems outside of the formal channels noted above and can provide confidential and informal counsel, referrals, and conflict resolution. Email

Resignation or Voluntary Termination

Students are strongly encouraged to remain in their positions the entire academic year unless otherwise noted in the job description. We realize, however, that school is students' primary responsibility. Should an unforeseen conflict arise between classes and work schedule, or the job does not allow sufficient time for studies, the student can terminate their position. Students should notify their supervisor at least two weeks before the separation date. 

To the greatest extent possible, position timeframes and potential schedules should be noted in the job posting and communicated to the student employee before they accept the position. If, however, unforeseen budgetary constraints or the completion of a project such as the case for external funded grant positions leads to the cessation of student employment necessity, the employer should provide the student employee as much advance written notice as possible, generally two weeks, to provide time for the student to secure alternative employment.

Involuntary Termination of Employment

Breaches of integrity usually call for involuntary and immediate dismissal from the Federal Work-Study program. Causes for involuntary termination of employment include but are not limited to:

  • Criminal conviction
  • Falsification of hiring records or timekeeping falsification
  • Poor performance issues including,
    • Unprofessional conduct
    • Blatant insubordination
    • Job abandonment or purposeful failure to perform any obligation without a valid excuse
  • Physical violence or the threat of it
  • Research misconduct
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Improper disclosure or use of private or confidential information including unauthorized use of information systems or data
  • Intentional destruction of Northwestern property
  • Violations of Northwestern’s policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct,
    or non-retaliation, and
  • Serious or intentional violations of Northwestern policy or state and federal law
  • Conduct detrimental to Northwestern's interests or reputation.


Upon voluntary or involuntary termination proceedings, the supervisor should deactivate students in the myHR Temp Panel to discontinue the student's employment.