Issue: How to avoid the often-overlooked liabilities of using interns in your workplace.
Risk: Courts view interns the same as employees, as "agents" of your organization. Plus, you face extra wage-and-hour liabilities.
Advice: Follow these four steps to identify and manage your legal risks.
If you use interns or plan on doing so, advise supervisors to manage them as closely as employees, if not more so, and apply your workplace policies to them.
That's because your organization can be held responsible for the actions of anybody, including unpaid interns, while they perform work for you. Interns' activities are under the employer's control, not the school's.
Some courts have ruled that employment-discrimination laws don't apply to unpaid interns. But that doesn't mean you can allow intern harassment. Reason: Interns may be able to pursue claims under Title IX, which bans sex bias in education programs.
Also, if your intern program reaches out to high schoolers, remember to follow federal child-labor laws. Youths ages 14 and 15 can work in certain nonhazardous jobs during limited hours, while 16- and 17-year-olds can work unlimited hours but not in certain dangerous jobs. For details, visit www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor, and check your state child.
4 steps before hiring interns
To help structure a legally sound intern program, follow these four steps before bringing them on board:
1. Define supervisory roles and supervisor/intern evaluations. Reliable supervision is the key to preventing problems, including injuries, discrimination and. Make sure all supervisors know who oversees each intern's work.
2. Draft an 'intern policy.' It can reduce misunderstandings that can lead to lawsuits. The policy should define the program, such as compensation structure (or the fact that interns won't be paid), eligibility requirements and the intern's at-will status. Provide a job description outlining the duties and your expectations. Never imply the promise of employment for a specified period.
3. Pick up formal documentation from the intern's college or high school that explains the educational relevance of the internship if he or she will earn credit.
4. Ask whether the school provides liability insurance to cover damage caused by a student. Many schools carry the coverage. If your organization carries employment practices liability insurance, check whether it extends to interns.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/1328/hiring-interns-keep-it-legal-dude "
- Keep close tabs on your head count: Volunteers may be 'employees' under Title VII
- Handle firing with care if employee has complained about alleged corporate wrongdoing
- Clients must repay taxes after payroll company commits fraud
- HR groups troubled by immigration reform bill
- Want to arbitrate employment disputes? Ensure handbook doesn't nix arbitration contract