Summer Internship Programs: What You Need to Know
Summer is in full-swing, and many local businesses are offering summer internship positions within their companies. Internships have many benefits to both intern and employer; the intern gains valuable experience and knowledge in their chosen field of study, and companies with sought-after internship programs are more likely to stay competitive in local hiring markets as well as foster growth and new ideas. What companies may not be aware of, however, is the fact that not all internship programs should necessarily be “free,” or unpaid programs. In fact, the Department of Labor strictly defines the parameters of hiring unpaid interns as follows:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
In short, unpaid internship programs should be restricted only to those companies willing to lose productivity for the sole purpose of training and mentoring a student in their industry. The gain may not be monetary, but sharing your knowledge and craft with an intern could be very rewarding in other ways. Those companies wishing to boost employee output and increase profitability during these months may consider offering a paid internship programs, thus meeting all federal requirements pertaining to the hiring of employees. As always, the attorneys at SMP have a great deal of expertise when it comes to structuring your business needs and answering any questions regarding the liability of hiring employees, whether paid or unpaid. For more information on the Department of Labor’s requirements for unpaid internship programs, click here.