Historically, companies used internships as a major component of their recruiting strategy, where they attempted to “lock in” new, raw talent while breathing new life into their current staff.
However, today companies are offering a larger number of unpaid internships, strictly as a money-saving tool. This trend has been highlighted recently in the media. In fact, CBS Moneywatch just published an article – Stop! Don’t hire that intern - that highlighted the trouble that is waiting for companies who use unpaid interns strictly as free labor. In this article, they state interns (paid or unpaid) must be offered four things:
In addition, if you are viewing interns as free labor – say for a big database migration project where people are needed to scan and organize 5 year’s worth of files – you can/will run into trouble from the U.S. Department of Labor. According to this agency, unpaid interns need to learn professional skills and apply their classroom knowledge; companies cannot use them to replace paid employees, and offering earned college credit is not enough to waive rights to compensation.
The U.S. Department of Labor has, based on a Supreme Court decision, has, therefore, mandated a six-point test for all unpaid internships through their Labor Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #71. In other words, an unpaid internship must meet all of these requirements:
The important point to remember is that all 6 of these requirements must be met in order for an employment relationship not to exist. For example, an employer cannot simply state that their internship offers academic credit, so therefore, it can be classified as an unpaid internship. That is only 1 requirement of the 6 point test, and it cannot be used as the sole reason for withholding compensation.
Remember, unpaid internships are designed to be a form of experiential learning. It is also designed to give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent – in many cases, actually hindering their current operations.
Temporary workers, on the other hand, can support a seasonal push or project, while making a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. In many cases, mentoring and training are not needed, and they work for the benefit of the company – not the educational institution.
So, if you are in need of continuous staffing for vacation coverage or seasonal fluctuations, temporary workers are a much better solution for your needs.
By Christiane Soto, Snelling.com
Historically, companies used internships as a major component of their recruiting strategy. Today, companies are offering a larger number of unpaid internships, strictly as a money-saving tool. The Dept. of Labor provides a 6 point test that should be met in order for the unpaid internship to be consider valid. Click here to read how to make sure you do not run into legal trouble when leveraging interns. Click here to download a PDF version of this article today!
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