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Time Entry and Approvals

Student employees must record their hours worked in Workforce, Northwestern’s timekeeping system, by the end of the pay period, unless otherwise noted. When finished, click "Approve." To make edits, click "Remove Approval."

Supervisors must approve and commit the timecard before 1 p.m. CST on the Monday following the end of the pay period unless otherwise noted. 

Maximum Work-Hour Limits

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law that mandates that temporary employees may not work more than 1,000 hours in a rolling 12-month period. Once the limit is reached, temporary employees must either stop working or be transferred into a benefits-eligible staff position. Contact for additional information. 

It is recommended that students work no more than 20 hours per week on average during the normal academic year (fall, winter, and spring quarters) when classes are in session including finals weeks and to comply with ERISA regulations.

  • 1,000 hours  ÷  52 weeks per year  =  19.23 hours per week on average

Breaks and Meals 

  • Illinois law requires a 20-minute unpaid meal period if working 7.5 continuous hours or more. The meal period must be taken no later than 5 hours after starting work.
    • If working 7.5 hours or more, student employees should enter their hours in Workforce and deduct 20 minutes from their time entry. Students who swipe at a timeclock must swipe in and out for the unpaid meal period. 
  • Paid breaks lasting no less/longer than 15-minute are required when working four straight hours.


  • If a student exceeds 40 cumulative hours worked per week amongst all Northwestern paid positions, they will be paid time and half for every minute worked after 40 hours.
  • Student temporary employment is intended to be part-time in nature and students should not often work enough hours whereby they would earn overtime wages. 


  • Students are expected to arrive on time to their scheduled work shift.
  • If students are going to be late, need to leave early, or not work that day, they are expected to contact their supervisor as soon as possible prior to their shift.  

Work on Holidays and University Breaks

  • Student employees may work on designated university, federal, or state holidays and during breaks between the academic quarters. Student will be paid their regular hourly rate.
  • If the student is an FWS student, any wages earned on holidays or during university breaks will count toward their overall FWS allotment earnings eligibility.  

Paid Sick Time & Accrual

  • Students may accrue paid sick leave hours. To be eligible, student employees must have worked a minimum of 80 hours within the past 120 days in their position.
  • Students earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked. Up to half of the unused hours may be carried over to the following year if you will be employed in the same position.
  • Sick time is paid from a central university account, not with FWS wages or department funds.
  • Questions about eligibility and accrual balances can be directed to  

Pay Advances

  • Northwestern University does not issue pay advances. No hours should be reported for a student before the work is performed.