- All Community
Creating an internship program can be a win-win for businesses and students alike. If you are considering creating one or currently have one in place, review Tandem HR’s top five things to consider when hiring an intern to ensure you are getting the most out of your program and following all applicable employment laws.
- What Are the Benefits of Taking On An Intern?
An intern can fill many needs at your company. They can do tasks that take up a lot of time for a valuable employee. It can give a permanent employee good managerial experience in regard to training and delegating tasks as well. Whatever your need, creating an internship can be a valuable option.
- To Pay or Not To Pay? That is the Question.
Unpaid internships are legal, however, there are strict guidelines to which a private, for-profit company would need to adhere in order to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act to avoid minimum wage or overtime penalties. If you wish to create an unpaid internship, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- The intern cannot contribute to the success of your business. This is a big one and why most interns are paid. What does this mean? The intern cannot file, answer phones, answer emails, assist customers or perform any other task that could be, should be or is typically done by a paid employee. The intern would only be able to participate in educational type activities and observe others.
- The internship must be similar to training which would be given in the educational setting.
- The experience must be for the intern’s benefit.
- The intern cannot displace regular permanent employees, but should work under close supervision of existing staff.
- The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship period.
- The intern and the employer are both of the understanding that the intern is not entitled to wages.
Remember, paid internships must offer at least the current minimum wage ($8.25 for Illinois) if you have at least 4 employees. Minimum wage laws do not apply to business owners’ family members.
- What Else Can You Offer Your Intern?
Determine in advance what benefits (aside from pay) your intern will receive. Be it a flexible work schedule, paid holidays, potential for hire, etc. Make sure to create a list and inform your candidates before hiring them.
- Secret to Finding the Perfect Intern
Unfortunately there is no crystal ball to find the perfect intern or the perfect employee. Like with any position, it’s good to pull all of your resources. Start with your current employees. You can create a rewards program for referring interns and workers by giving them a small bonus. Also, inform a local college or university of your need and what you can offer.
- The Liability Behind Providing An Internship
Internships are considered part of the ‘at will’ employment status which means just like your other employees, they can be terminated for poor conduct. You are also responsible for providing a safe work environment and maintaining compliance with workplace and discrimination laws. In Illinois, interns must be covered by workers compensation. Basically, all of the liabilities you would assume with a permanent employee, including unemployment, should be assumed with an intern.
An internship program can create invaluable experiences for a recent college graduate or current student as well as give your organization some administrative support. If you are a Tandem HR client and considering an internship program, please consult with your HR Generalist or email email@example.com. Another great resource available to businesses and students is www.interships.com. Businesses can peruse candidate resumes, students can post resumes and there is a wealth of valuable information regarding internship programs including a live chat room to submit questions.
The staff at Tandem HR contributed to this article. It is intended as information and is not a substitute for legal advice. Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved.