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We are a CRLA-certified program.  Our hiring standards for the last several years have required the students to complete the first ten hours of our CRLA Level I curriculum before starting the position or else concurrently over their first couple weeks on the job if they are a late hire.  Finishing the curriculum through attendance at relevant workshops and completion of the requisite 25 hours of tutoring time is optional.  Because we only offer the curriculum to our new staff or hired staff in other departments who are serving as TAs and SI leaders, we pay their standard hourly rate for attendance and encourage the supervisors in other areas to do the same.

We are now exploring turning our curricula into a for-credit course that would be open to any student who wishes to pursue it, whether or not they are employed in a tutor, TA, and/or SI position.  The students going through that course would not be paid to do so.  They would pay the tuition to take the course, which would theoretically count toward their graduation credits.

However, in order to make the process ethical, I believe we will need to continue offering our mandatory Level I training external to that course for our new employees who either cannot fit the course into their semester schedule and/or who don't wish to take it.  They should be compensated because they are not receiving course credit.

I can't speak from a legal perspective, but my analysis of the situation suggests that if your tutors' employment is contingent upon taking this course, and the course is the only way to meet the requirement, that you may run into legal issues.  However, your point also strikes me as valid insofar as the double compensation aspect.  If they are earning credits toward graduation, they do not need to be paid additionally.  I would look at an internship as a parallel.  Many employers for interns provide an hourly rate, but not all of them do, and many students still choose to pursue that internship because it may fulfill a graduation requirement.

If your tutors understand upfront that the course is a prerequisite for employment and that they are not being paid to undergo it, then they made an informed decision to pursue employment with you under these conditions.  I might be inclined to explore the situation for future students, but I wouldn't feel the need to change the status quo for current students as long as you can provide evidence that they understood how the process, and lack of compensation, works when they accepted the job and enrolled in the course.

Sincerely,

Debbie Malewicki, MA
Director, Center for Learning Resources
Winner of the 2016 ATP Program of Excellence Award
Safe Zone Ally
116 Marvin K. Peterson Library
University of New Haven -- "A Leader in Experiential Education"
300 Boston Post Road
West Haven, CT  06516
Phone:  (203) 932-7415
Fax:  (203) 931-6013
E-mail:  [log in to unmask]

"Tutoring to Help You Blossom Into a Better Student”

Thought of the day:  “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”  By John Burroughs



-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Lynell Williams
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2016 11:14 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Required payment for tutor course

I don't have a definitive answer to your question from a legal perspective, but I would look into the fact that since the student is receiving credit for the course, paying for the time as well could be considered double compensation. You are already paying for the credit the student receives for the course via tuition waiver. Frankly, I'm surprised you're allowed to pay them for the live training when you already give them free credit. 

Lynell Williams
Director, SMART Learning Commons
Office of Undergraduate Education
University of Minnesota

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