Open internships to older, experienced applicants

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in Compensation and Benefits,Hiring,Human Resources

As you hire employees to replace the ones who leave your organization as the economy improves, you might find that experienced, mature workers are willing to work as interns to get their feet in the door.

Nearly a quarter of employers said workers with 10-plus years of experience who are age 50 or older are applying for internships, according to a poll of 2,500 businesses by CareerBuilder.

As a result, employers are able to assign higher-level tasks to interns to tap their experience and knowledge. The survey shows that 73% are giving interns hands-on experience related to their goals.

Tip: Use an internship to try out a new employee before making a full-time commitment. About 52% of the employers in the survey said they often wind up hiring their interns as permanent, full-time employees.

Note: If yours is a for-profit company, you will probably have to pay your interns. Many employers assume that interns (regardless of age) can be unpaid. That’s just not true.

Before you begin taking on interns, do a thoughtful and careful analysis to make sure state and federal laws allow you to classify an individual as an unpaid intern rather than a paid employee. If an administrative agency or court determines that the unpaid intern was actually an employee, the misclassification can be very costly.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has indicated that interns must be treated like any employee for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act, meaning they must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime unless they qualify as an “exempt” employee.

For guidance, download the DOL’s “Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

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