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Summer Interns and Seasonal Hires

April 5th, 2019

With longer days, warmer temperatures and school vacations coming soon,
the summer months often present unique issues for employers according
to Attorney Beth Zoller’s XpertHR article, Summer Workplace Issues.
Summer Interns
During the summer, it may be common for an employer to hire interns to provide exposure and insight into the business and, potentially, prepare them for future employment. However, an unpaid intern may claim that he or she is an employee and should be properly compensated and provided with workplace protections. An employer considering unpaid internships should be sure the intern realizes most of the benefit. An employer should take the following actions to help limit the legal risks of an unpaid internship:
  • Make sure the employer and the intern both clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation, ideally with a written acknowledgment from both the intern and the company;
  • Provide training that would be similar to what would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions;
  • Tie the internship to the intern's formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit;
  • Accommodate the intern's academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar;
  • Ensure the intern continues to learn during the entire duration of his or her internship;
  • Make the intern's work complement, rather than displace, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern; and
  • Understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.
When an internship does not meet the strict criteria established by the US Department of Labor, interns must be paid at least minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Seasonal Hires
When hiring any seasonal workers or temporary workers to assist during the summer months, it is important for an employer to utilize the same hiring practices and background checks as the employer uses for all full-time workers. Further, an employer must comply with all relevant discrimination, harassment and child labor laws.
Article shared by WorkSmart HR, LLC, a New Hampshire based company that takes a hands-on approach to help clients with day-to-day, complex and compliance-driven human resources work.