Many businesses opt to work with interns during the summer months. Other businesses opt to work with interns year-round or on a semester-by-semester basis. Whenever your business chooses to embrace internship opportunities, it will be important for you to keep several legal tips in mind. Failure to treat interns in certain ways can land you in hot water, legally speaking.
It is primarily important for you to remember that internships are meant to be valuable learning experiences for the individuals who are pursuing internship opportunities at your place of business. If you do not give your interns access to the kind of valuable learning opportunities they would ordinarily receive in another educational environment, you can leave your business vulnerable to litigation. This is true whether or not your interns are paid or unpaid.
In addition, it is important for your business to clearly define the roles that your interns will play in daily operations. Designating these roles before interns arrive will help your employees to understand which tasks interns should and should not be assigned to. In general, interns should not be assigned to any task which is void of educational value. In addition, you should make sure that your employees know not to promise your interns a position at the end of their internship period.
When in doubt about how to treat your business’s interns, please consider speaking with an attorney experienced in business law. The laws concerning interns and internships are consistently evolving and an attorney will likely be able to point you and your business in the right direction.
Source: Findlaw Free Enterprise, “How to Avoid Intern Lawsuits,” Christopher Coble, June 17, 2015