Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Standards for interns? (Hold your jokes, please)

As the summer months are quickly approaching, companies are making final arrangements for those employees and interns who will grace the halls for the few months of summer breaks from high school, colleges and graduate schools. Some schools require students to complete internships, and those are commonly unpaid positions. Well, perhaps until now.

In case you haven't heard, the US Department of Labor issued a fact sheet on the standards it will apply in determining whether an intern must be paid. Probably the most difficult standard will be whether the employer "derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded."

Some may chuckle, thinking that your current employees can frequently impede operations. But seriously--when evaluating an internship program, many employers try to make the experience as "real life" as possible, meaning that the intern is involved in day-to-day operations and experiences as if he/she worked at the company. Fruits of those labors, then, could naturally be seen as advantages to the company.

If you have unpaid internships at your company, you would be well-served to review the fact sheet and discuss your specific program with your counsel.

Good luck, and happy hiring, er, internship-ing.

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