Hiring an Intern? Things to Consider.
Internships are all the rage. For example, my niece and nephew both attended Northeastern University, where admission standards have sky rocketed over the last few years largely in response to the school’s heavy emphasis on work co-ops. In this tough economy parents and students understandably love the idea of getting a leg up on the competition by getting real life experience and making contacts that could lead to future employment.
That’s nice Henry, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China, you may ask. Well, I am assuming that a fair number of credit unions either hire interns or are considering doing so. Besides, I overhead the Association’s HR guru Chris Pajak fielding a question on this very issue the other day and I thought it was an intriguing issue. I’m here to remind you that rising interest in internships is growing hand in hand with increased legal scrutiny of what interns can and cannot do.
Most importantly, disgruntled interns have brought lawsuits claiming that they were actually employees and should have been treated as such under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The bad news is that there are no hard and fast rules to determine when an intern is actually an employee. The good news is, as explained in a recent article in the Legal Intelligencer, that the Second Circuit has provided employers with several criteria to be considered when determining if an intern is properly classified. These criteria include the extent to which: the intern clearly understands that there is no expectation of compensation; the internship provides training similar to that provided in an educational environment; the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program, such as through coursework and the receipt of academic credit; the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments; the intern’s work complements rather than replaces an existing employee; the internship’s duration is tied to beneficial learning; and the employer and intern understand that the internship is being conducted without the assurance of a job at its conclusion.
Now remember, these are criteria, not requirements, which means that not every single one of these elements have to be present for you to legally provide someone an interning opportunity. The overriding gist of cases that have reviewed this issue is that employers have to be able to demonstrate that an intern is receiving academic benefit, and not simply being used to substitute for an employee.
Congressman Israel to Retire
Eight term Long Island Congressman Steve Israel announced that he would not be seeking re-election. One of his goals apparently is to have more time to write the Great American Novel. According to the Huffington Post, he plans to write a satire on the gun lobby. His district represents Northern Long Island and part of Queens. Best of luck, Congressman.