Everything you need to know before hiring a summer intern

by | Apr 29, 2016 | Blog

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

It’s summer internship season!

Yep. Time to start looking for some extra summer help (if you feel so inclined).

But wait! Before posting that summer internship ad, there are a few things to consider.

As with any time you hire new employees, you want to make sure your company meets regulations.

Don’t worry! Integrity HR’s got your back.

We’ve put together everything you need before hiring a summer intern, all in two easy steps!

Keep reading. We’ll have you ready to hire an intern in no time!

# 1. Decide if the internship will be paid or unpaid

Unfortunately, there is more to this decision than just doing what you want to do.

Sure, we’d all love to have unpaid employees. (Who wouldn’t?!)

But of course there are rules.

In simple terms: If an intern is considered an “employee” by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), they are entitled to pay.

Typically, interns in the for-profit private sector are considered employees by the FLSA.

But there are some exceptions.

To make it easy on you, the Department of Labor has a six-part test for determining whether internships in the for-profit private sector may be unpaid.

Click here to view The Six Criteria of Unpaid Internships on our previous blog.

As a best practice, we recommend that you use unpaid interns only if all six of the criteria are met!

(Unpaid internships in the public sector and for non-profit charitable organizations are usually permissible if the intern volunteers his/her services without expectation of compensation.)

So… why is this so important?

Well, because the possible punishment for mis-classification is…

You guessed it: fines, back pay, back taxes, penalties and attorney fees.

We all know you don’t want that! So be sure to check out that six-part test!

(It’s also worth noting that if your intern is considered an employee under FLSA, rules on overtime, minimum wage, etc. apply as well. Be sure to read the blog above all the way through to get that info!)

#2. Determine if the intern is eligible for benefits.

This part is usually not considered. People often ask us, “You mean I have to offer benefits to my interns?”

Well, the answer is you might.

This is due to a little thing called the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act does not excuse interns from its definition of a full-time employee.

Therefore, if your company has 50 or more employees (or the hiring of an intern would put you at this number), you may be required to provide benefits to your interns.

Click here for help determining if your business meets this requirement or not.

A final thought:

It is important to note that workplace protections like the Civil Rights Act, the ADA, OSHA, and many state-specific laws apply to interns, whether paid or unpaid.

So be sure to keep up with those as well!

(We know we’re always preaching about compliance but it’s just oh so important!)

Anyway, good luck with making these determinations and happy summer internship season!

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