The summer is fast approaching and perhaps you are considering hiring summer interns for your business. Why not? Hiring summer interns is a great business strategy. Summer interns are a great way for your business to increase its recognition in the marketplace, recruit future talent, liven up your workplace, and provide your current employees with an opportunity to gain experience serving as a mentor and a manager.
However, there are some legal risks involved with hiring interns. Whether your interns are paid or unpaid, many of the legal risks associated with traditional employees also apply, including, for example, anti-discrimination laws.
When it comes to unpaid interns, violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is one of the biggest risks for "for-profit" businesses. Internships at "for-profit" businesses will typically be viewed as employment, unless the internship is deemed exempt by the U.S. Department of Labor.
To ensure that your business' internship program is exempt you must make sure the program is properly structured.
The 6-point test for determining if an unpaid internship program is exempt from FLSA's requirement to pay interns a minimum wage and overtime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is as follows:
In addition to federal laws, your business must also consider what state laws apply to the internship. Check out this list of cases, summarizing internship-related lawsuits filed over the past 3 years. While you cannot prevent lawsuits, you can increase the likelihood of your business winning a lawsuit.
So, remember unpaid internships are not meant to be free labor for your business. Before you bring on your interns this summer, make sure you have a formalized internship program that complies with both federal and state laws. Once you have written down the details of your internship program make sure you have them reviewed by both your human resources department and an attorney.
Simmons Rogers, LLC
Simmons Rogers, LLC is a full service civil law firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. We provide legal services as well as mediation and arbitration services, to businesses and individuals throughout the state of Georgia and beyond.
This blog is not intended to be a complete explanation of the law. Its purpose is to inform, not to advise on any specific legal problem or legal rights. If you have specific questions regarding any topic in this blog, you are encouraged to consult the Atlanta based law firm of Simmons Rogers, LLC or an attorney licensed in your