Do Interns Increase Your Business Risk?

Many ministries now provide college students with the opportunity to work as summer interns. These can be both rewarding for the college student and beneficial to the business. Offering paid or unpaid internships can put your company at risk. We wanted to highlight some of the business risks of having interns. Before you hire that person, make sure your company is well prepared.

  • You should have a plan in writing. It should include a job description, working hours, and a chain of command.
  • Determine whether any state regulations might be affected.
  • If you offer a paid internship, you must treat the intern as you would any other employee. We recommend having a formal agreement that indemnifies the terms of the agreement, including the internship period.
  • If the internship is paid, remember to factor in workers’ compensation.
  • Ensure that you are in compliance with Healthcare Reform in terms of employee benefits.
  • Assure the intern that they are not entitled to “regular” company benefits such as retirement, insurance, vacation, and so on.
  • The internship must provide training that is comparable to what would be provided in a classroom setting.
  • The intern must receive a “true” benefit.
  • The internship must not be solely for the benefit of the company.
  • The intern should not take the place of regular employees and should work closely with existing staff.

Unpaid internships for for-profit companies are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act of the United States Department of Labor. If you provide educational credit, you must follow certain rules. Here’s a link to the United States Department of Labor. We recommend that you consult with the Department of Labor to ensure that your program satisfies all of the requirements. Many businesses have been sued as a result of ineffective internship programs

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