The Labor Program

Introduction to the Labor Program

The Student Labor Program originated in its earliest form at Berea College in 1859 and expanded to become one of the College’s Great Commitments. The Labor Program provides economic, educational, social, personal, and spiritual benefits to students and those served by their work.

The Labor Program is designed to serve the following purposes:

  • Support the total educational program at Berea College through experiences providing the learning of skills, responsibility, habits, attitudes, and processes associated with work;
  • Provide and encourage opportunities for students to pay costs of board (meals), room, and related educational expenses;
  • Provide staff for College operations;
  • Provide opportunities for service to the community and others through labor;
  • Establish a lifestyle of doing and thinking, action and reflection, and serving and learning that carries on beyond the college years.

Designed to serve these multiple purposes, the program reflects a unified vision of labor as student and learning centered service to the College and broader community, and as necessary work well done. The administration of the program is the responsibility of the Dean of Labor.

Labor assignments function very much like classes. Beginning at entry levels of work, students are expected to progress to more skilled and responsible levels. Through these experiences it is expected that student workers will:

  • develop good work habits and attitudes;
  • gain an understanding of personal interests, skills, and limitations; and
  • exercise creativity, problem-solving, and responsibility. Students also may learn the qualities of leadership, standard setting, and effective supervision.

The Labor Program makes it possible for students to know each other as co-workers as well as classmates. More importantly, linking the Academic and Labor programs establishes a pattern of learning through work that continues long after college.

TRACY UltraTime

Labor Enrollment Agreement

Signed by each student upon entering Berea College, the Labor Enrollment Agreement outlines the expectations of the student and the College with regard to the Labor Program and serves as the student’s acknowledgement of work as a core requirement of enrollment and an integral/required part of their educational program. Below is the present version of the agreement:Labor Enrollment Agreement

Hour Contracts

During each academic term, students have the following hour expectation based on their contractual hours:

 Contract Total Hour Expectation 
 10 hour contract 160 total term hours
 12 hour contract 180 total term hours 
 15 hour contract 225 total term hours 

Labor Overloads

A labor overload is defined as more than 15 hours of labor per week during the regular academic year. Overloads may not be approved retroactively and are subject to periodic review. Approval may be revoked if primary labor hours, labor performance, or academic performance become less than satisfactory. Forms may be secured in the Student Service Center, or Labor Program Office, and should be submitted to Financial Aid for preliminary review. Labor overloads may be continued from term to term within an academic year, provided that the approval guidelines can still be met. The form will specify approval for the Academic Year, Fall or Spring Term.   Student records will be reviewed mid-year and students will be notified if the overload is discontinued. Students may work up to 20 hours during January’s short term without special approval.

Guidelines for Approval:

  • Sophomore, junior, or senior classification
  • Meeting Labor Program requirements in the primary position
  • Not on any form of probation
  • Enrolled in less than 5 course credits with less than 8 preparations (fall and spring terms only)
  • Have a 2.50 GPA, both cumulative and for the previous full term; the required 2.50 cumulative GPA may be waived if a 3.00 GPA is earned during the previous full term.

Requests for over 20 hours are subject to the following additional guidelines:

  • Junior or senior classification
  • 3.00 GPA in the major, overall, and for the previous term
  • Submission of a letter outlining the reason for requesting more than 20 hours
  • Approval of the Dean of Labor and the Student Admissions and Academic Standing Committee.

These approval guidelines may be waived in cases where student parents must work 20 hours per week in order to receive state childcare benefits (e.g., KTAP), but the application must still be submitted and reviewed.

During periods of non-enrollment (vacation periods, summer practicum), hours must not exceed 40 per week.

First-Year Labor Assignments

First year students are defined as freshmen, International, Exchange, and transfer students.  In other words, any student who is attending Berea College for the first time.  

All first-year students are assigned WLS level 1, ten-hour positions, which they will hold until the end of the first academic year. At the conclusion of the first year, and each year thereafter, students are charged with securing their own position placements. Academic studies and work through the Labor Program are the primary concern of students attending Berea College and constitute a full-time load. Accordingly, work outside the Labor Program on a regular basis while enrolled as a student is not permitted without the approval of Dean of Labor or his designate in consultation with appropriate academic and financial-aid officials.

Exchange, Part-Time, and Non-Degree Students

Exchange students are required to participate fully in the Labor Program. Part-time students are required to participate, but a reduction in hours may be approved by the Dean of Labor depending on the circumstances. Non-degree students are permitted to participate in the College’s Labor Program provided funding is available and all degree-seeking students have been assigned.

Last Day to Release from a Labor Position

Signing a primary position status form obligates a student to remain in a labor position for the entire academic year, for the summer term, or, in the case of a December graduate, for the fall term. Should a student holding a Sophomore- Senior classification petition for an early release due to special circumstances, the labor supervisor of the primary position may consider and approve the request for a release on or before the last day to drop a class without a “W” appearing on the transcript. (This dates occurs one week after the first day of class in Fall and Spring terms and earlier in Summer One and Summer Two terms. Please refer to the academic calendar for the official dates.)

Primary supervisors are not obligated to approve a student’s request for release. Rare exceptions may be considered after this deadline and will require approval from the Labor Program Office. The current primary supervisor must complete a “Change of Labor Position Request Form” and submit it to the Labor Program Office, Hafer-Gibson, for review. Note: First Year Students are assigned to a labor position for an entire academic year and may not be released from any position without approval from the Labor Program Office.

Excused Hours

Students who are unable to report to a regularly scheduled work assignment due to an emergency are expected to notify their labor supervisor immediately. Special circumstances such as an excused absences due to a death in the family or prolonged illness, should be communicated to the Labor Program Office to consider if the student may be excused from a portion of the labor requirement. This should be done as quickly as possible to determine if  ircumstances would require documentation as would be the case with a prolonged illness or condition, etc.  Documentation should specify any restrictions as well when the student is cleared to return to work. A doctor/dental appointment is typically not excused unless it develops into a more serious condition requiring considerable absenteeism. In instances other than emergencies, the labor supervisor should be notified well in advance of the absence and time should be made up before the end of the term. (Also see Attendance Policy.)

Student Labor Evaluation (SLE): An Online, Web-Based Tool

The Student Labor Evaluation (SLE) process promotes student personal and professional development in the workplace by establishing performance standards consistent with the Berea College Workplace Expectations, assessing fulfillment of those standards, and determining ways in which the student and supervisor(s) / mentor(s) can collaborate to enhance student learning opportunities. The completion of this regular evaluation process creates a documented work performance history for each student as well as fulfills Berea College and federal compliance guidelines.

As part of the development plan, students should expect supervisors to conduct a mid-year evaluation at the middle of the labor position participation agreement period and a final evaluation at the conclusion of the labor position participation agreement (defined by the status form). In addition, supervisors are encouraged to have periodic conversations with students about position performance and to offer suggestions as well as provide opportunities for continued reflection and growth. Evaluations focus on seven (7) core areas of position performance including: attendance, accountability, teamwork, initiative, respect, learning, and position specific (based on individual departmental position descriptions).

Labor evaluation results are a central component of the labor transcript with performance ratings appearing for each position in a term or summer period. Because these performance ratings provide an advantage in future career seeking opportunities, students should strive to perform at the highest levels in every position held at Berea College.

Students who are not performing satisfactorily in a labor position and receive a score of 59 or below, are subject to being placed on Labor Probation for unsatisfactory performance within the department. (See Labor Probation and Suspension.)

Staff or Faculty Labor Supervisors assume the role of practical instructors within the program and evaluate, using the Student Labor Evaluation (SLE) described below, the student’s performance based on seven performance expectations (learning outcomes). Descriptors under the performance expectations describe the general learning outcomes that apply to the performance expectation. The descriptors are also linked to the seven Labor Learning Goals of the program and to the Workplace Expectations* of the college that apply. The seventh performance expectation “Position Specific” ties directly to the position description which defines the specific skill sets and requirements of the position which are evaluated under the position specific expectation. All student labor positions are defined by a position description and include specific learning opportunities and required skill sets that are embedded in the position. See the summary spreadsheet below to view how the various learning outcomes are integrated/linked to the seven performance expectations.

Labor Learning Goals (LLG)

Work Place Expectations Evaluation Performance Expecations/Descriptors
Supported in...

#2 Acts with integrity and caring;

#4 Works as a team

• is punctual and arrives on time for work as scheduled and/or required

• give advance notices of absences
Supported in...

Learning Goal #5 - to develop and sustain both workplace habits (e.g., timeliness, healthy attitudes about working and co-workers, motivation to work well, flexibility and discipline, accountability and initiative, willingness to learn and to share learning, etc.) and job-specific practical skills, abilities, or knowledge (e.g., software)
Supported in...

#2 Acts with integrity and caring;

#4 Works as a team

• manages time well and is able to provide timely completion of job assignments

• supports workplace policies and procedures including dress and safety requirements
Supported in...

Learning Goal #5 (see above)
#6 Encourage plain and sustianable living • ensures proper care of college equipment, facilities, materials, and work environment. Learning Goal #2 - to develop and sustain understandings of working well in communitiy - of what is to work well, of how to work well, of why work well. This may includes systems and interrelationships within workplaces and community, general principles ground specific tasks, and practices pertaining to use of resources and sustainability.
Supported in...

#4 Works as a team;

#3 Value all people;

#7 Celebrate work well done

• demonstrates willingness to work, support, and collaborate with supervisors and co-workers while promoting a positive atmosphere in the workplace for all
Supported in...

Learning Goals #2 and #5

Learning Goal #4 - to develop and sustain abilities to solve novel, complex, multifaceted problems as they arise, whether working collaboratively or individually.
#4 Works as a team;

#1 Exhibit enthusiasm for learning
• demonstrates an understanding of the relationship of his/her work to the work of others within the department
Is supported in...

#5 Serve others;

#2 Act with integrity and caring

• Consistently completes job assignments without need for constant supervision
Is supported in...

Learning Goal #5 (see above)
#5 Serve others;

#7 Celebrate work well done
• Is a self-starter with the ability to adjust and adapt to change as needed Learning Goal #5 (see above)
Is supported in...

#2 Act with integrity and caring;

#3 Value all people;

#4 Works as a team

• Exhibits professional conduct in the workplaces and interacts respectfully with all people including supervisors, co-workers and those being served
Is supported in...

Learning Goal #3 - to develop and sustain abilities to communicate, collaborate, and interact with others as compassionate and care human beings; as diverse people both similar and different from each other; and as co-workers with shared goals.
#3 Value all people;

#4 Works as a team
• Respectfully deals with conflict and differing points of view Learning Goal #4 (see above)
Is supported in...

#1 Exhibit enthusiasm for learning

• Enhances the effectiveness of co-workers and the department by sharing knowledge
Is supported in...
#1 Exhibit enthusiasm for learning • Demonstrates an interest in acquiring new skills Learning Goal #5 (see above)
#1 Exhibit enthusiasm for learning • Seeks to reflect and understand the value of the job and how it relates to personal development Learning Goal #5 (see above)

#1 - To develop and sustain habits of understanding all working as both independent and interdependent contribution to a community integrating learning, labor, and service.

#6 - To develop and sustain abilities to learn how to learn, including habits of offering and accepting constructive criticism and habits of effective reflection, including reflection about broad, deep issues related to labor, work, and the world of work beyond Berea

The degree to which a job description supports Workplace Expectations will vary from job to job.

• The degree to which this student fulfills the basic labor requirements, objectives, and learning goals as set forth in his/her job description. Meeting expectations for the position is the degree to which student fulfills the job related requirements for the position while Exceptional Performance would relate to the maximum degree in which student takes advantage and participates in the additional development aspect of the job such as the learning opportunities, etc...

The degree to which a job description supports Workplace Expectations will vary from job to job.

Labor Experience Evaluation (LEE): An Online, Web-Based Tool

The Labor Experience Evaluation (LEE) is an assessment tool designed to provide student feedback to those responsible for Labor Program effectiveness at the supervisor, department, and program levels. Student responses to the LEE are one of many sources of information used by Labor Program personnel in their efforts to improve the educational quality of the student work experience at Berea College.

The Labor Experience Evaluation allows students to reflect upon their overall labor experience while at Berea College. This survey allows students to evaluate back to us their labor experiences in five key areas:

  1. Learning through work experiences
  2. The relationships between work and academics
  3. Four core general educational goals
  4. Evaluation of the local work area
  5. Evaluation of the Labor Program (Labor Program Office, and Student Payment Office)

Students are required towards the end of the academic year to evaluate and reflect on their labor experience through the Labor Experience Evaluation (LEE). Students are asked to complete the evaluation based on the current primary position but certainly other positions should be considered when thinking about the overall experience.   Labor departments should set aside time to allow the student to complete this evaluation during work time. The majority of the departments will utilize the weekly Tuesday 4-5 PM Labor Meeting time to allow their students to complete this web based on-line evaluation. The Labor Department Administrator and Labor Supervisor is given access to reports of the evaluations completed by the students working in the department after the conclusion of the labor assignment. Personal information (including name. class, gender…) that could identify a student is removed. The purpose of the reports is to provide a mechanism for  Department Administrators to be able to assess, with the department labor supervisors, the effectiveness of the learning occurring across the department.

Labor Program Evaluation (LPE): An Online, Web-Based Tool

Presently under development, this on-line tool will allow Labor Supervisors and Department Administrators to evaluate the Labor Program Administrative offices and services provided which includes student payroll.

Student Labor Transcript

The Student Labor Transcript serves as a record of the student’s participation in the Student Labor Program during his/her period of enrollment and will provide a detailed accounting of all positions held, each department and supervisor name, the WLS levels attained, the  assigned work hours per week, and the results of the departmental labor evaluation.  In addition, the transcript will contain a record of all labor distinctions received such as awards, special trainings, and certifications.   This information can be utilized by students in writing resumes and in future job searches by providing official documentation from Berea College that shows position performance and skill levels attained.

The transcript is official only when the embossed College seal and an authorized signature is affixed.  The signature is in blue ink.  Transcripts are printed on security paper and if photocopied, the legend COPY will appear in the background.  Berea College cannot guarantee the authenticity of any transcripts not issued directly to the receiving party.  In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, this transcript must not be released any third party without the written consent of the student.

A labor transcript can be requested through the student service center.  Transcripts are issued free of charge to current and former students.

Former students may have holds prohibiting access to their labor records if they left Berea College with a student account balance or if their loans are not in good standing or if they failed to meet their labor hour requirement at the end of their final term. Please contact the appropriate department(s) to resolve any such holds.

Labor Probation

The decision to place a student on Labor Probation is made by the Student Labor Relations Specialist in consultation with other professional staff of the Labor Program Office and is based on a review of all related circumstances. Normally probation occurs when a student within a primary position has:

  1. Failed over a term to work a minimum of 10 hours a week.
  2. Fallen significantly behind in hours during a term and warnings and attempts at counseling have not been successful.
  3. Falsified time/labor records.  Additionally, in some cases the offense could be grounds for a judicial hearing.
  4. Failed to meet the requirements of an accountability agreement.
  5. Scored 59 or below on a Labor Evaluation for a primary position.
  6. Not meeting the expectations or needs of the department during a term.  (Note: documentation from the supervisor would be required describing how the student is not meeting department expectations or needs.

Labor probation is centrally monitored and recorded, and has the potential to significantly impact a student’s participation in College activities.  Students on probation:

  • Will be denied participation in international travel experiences, internships, independent studies, College-sponsored summer off-campus internships, and off-campus short term exchange; a student who is found to be significantly deficient in meeting the required labor obligation at mid-term may be denied during the application process;
  • Will not be eligible for a labor or course overload or leave of absence;
  • Will not be permitted to hold level five or six labor positions, or certain unclassified labor positions (e.g., CAB Chair, Pinnacle Editor); incumbents who are placed on probation while serving may be released;
  • May be ineligible for consideration for some Labor Day awards, scholarship and service awards and membership in honorary societies (e.g., Mortar Board);
  • May be ineligible to apply for a residence hall staff position
  • May be denied permission for off-campus labor, local access to motor vehicles, and off-campus living.

Labor probation is typically for one regular term but may be extended at the discretion of the Dean of Labor or Student Labor Relations Specialist depending on the circumstances. 

Labor Probation—Immediate Suspension

The Student Labor Relations Specialist or the Labor Program Council in consultation with the Dean of Labor may elect to place a student on Labor Probation—Immediate Suspension. This “last chance” designation involves the development of an accountability agreement between the student and the Labor Program, violation of which results in a recommendation of immediate suspension by the Student Labor Relations Specialist.

Suspension within a Term

Non-performance as a student worker can lead to suspension within a term. In cases where a student has been placed on labor probation and continues a pattern of non-performance the Student Labor Relations Specialist or the Labor Program Council in consultation with the Dean of Labor may elect to develop an accountability agreement and place the student on Labor Probation- Immediate Suspension. Accountability agreements outline clear expectations that- if not met- are grounds for immediate suspension within the term by the Student Labor Relations Specialist.

Labor suspension is a serious matter. It appears on the student’s academic transcript for the duration of the suspension, and results in a designation of “not in good standing” which often prevents admission to another institution. At the end of the suspension period, the language is removed from the transcript and the student is once again in good standing. While the student may apply for readmission to Berea College, it is not guaranteed

Student Labor Grievance Procedure

A student with a labor-related problem should first discuss this situation with the supervisor. Most difficulties can be handled at this level. However, if it cannot be solved here, the next step is to discuss the concern with the head of the department. If the concern is not resolved, the next step is to contact the Labor Program Office’s Student Labor Relations Specialist for intervention and possible mediation.

If a solution cannot be reached in this manner, a formal grievance can be made by presenting the complaint in writing to the Dean of Labor. The Dean may request written responses from the other parties involved. Normally within one week from the time the written complaint is received the Dean will write a report of findings and conclusions and submit it to all concerned. If any of the parties to the grievance appeals the Dean’s decision, the Labor Program Council will convene a meeting, normally within one week of the appeal, or as soon as possible.

The Labor Program Council Chairperson shall appoint a Labor Grievance Board composed of four members of the Council, including the Chairperson, one student, one teaching faculty member, and one non-Labor Program Office member. The Labor Program Council Chairperson will serve as chairperson of the Grievance Board. The Dean of Labor will forward to the Board all written documents concerning the grievance and the written report. The Board will review the grievance and within one week give a written decision to all concerned. The decision of the Board will be final subject to legal and other institutional requirements as determined by the President.

Adopted by the General Faculty, January 5, 1981. Titles updated July 2021.

Grievances related to discrimination and sexual harassment will be addressed through other means. Please refer to the compliance section of this publication for further details.