Making Sure Your Company Internship Program Is Legitimate

large_4340844337When deciding whether or not to start an internship program at your company, be sure to examine the monetary gain bringing on an intern may contribute.  If there is gain in your program, stop right there and go back to the drawing board.  There have been recent reports by interns that they have been doing work at companies that they should have gotten paid for as unpaid interns.

With summer right around the corner and intern season soon upon us, I wanted to touch on this important subject to make sure internship programs are legal according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  There can be a lot of gray areas in examining what constitutes as work that benefits the company, thus should be paid for, so I wanted to talk about six points HR Magazine addresses to ensure you’re compliant.

  1. Training or work completed by an intern should be similar to that of a class taken through a vocational school.  Create a syllabus for your program and ensure tasks are for educational purposes.  For instance, if you’re a marketing firm, there won’t be much educational gain in having an intern clean the break room.
  2. If your internship program is under review, you can rest well if your program provides little to no benefit to the company.  It costs time and money to educate so it should almost impede productivity while employees stop what they’re doing to teach the intern.
  3. Interns shouldn’t replace employees.  Instead, employees should be looked at as mentors and educators for interns.  Empower your employees by entrusting them to pass on their knowledge, instead of feeling threatened by a young intern.
  4. Interns should benefit from your internship program more than you.  Record your cost to training the student as well as the monetary gain the intern’s tasks bring to your company.  It should even out or benefit the intern more.
  5. There should be no entitled employment at the end of the internship program.  Draft up a document that states this exactly so there is no miscommunication.
  6. If employment is granted at the end of the internship, there should be no back wages paid for time spent in the internship.  This should also be clearly stated in a document which the intern signs.

By following these six steps, your program will follow FLSA guidelines.  Internships are a great way to spread knowledge and expertise within your industry and also a great way to mold a potential future employee.  If you have more questions about internships and how to keep them legal, connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more!