Believe it or not, summer will arrive. And so will interns if your organization decides to use them. Just make sure your intern program doesn’t violate Department of Labor regulations.
In opinion letters and other rulings, the DOL has set out six ironclad rules for taking on interns. A violation of any of those rules could cost your company in fines and legal fees:
1. There should be actual training involved, similar to what an intern would get at a vocational school. To fully cover the training stipulation, many firms write out detailed training plans, including goals and objectives for the trainee.
2. The training is mainly for the benefit of the trainee, and not just for the company.
3. Trainees do not displace regular employees.
4. The company that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded.
5. There is no agreement or requirement that trainees will receive a job after completion of the training period. That doesn’t preclude companies from hiring trainees; it just means there can’t be a promise of employment before or during the training period.
6. The organization and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
Note: Legal advisers suggest that you avoid terms such as “hire,” “job,” “employee” or “employer” in documents associated with an intern program.