Summer is upon us now and you’re probably considering tapping the youthful vigor and enthusiasm of college-aged interns to help take some long-postponed projects to completion. You like the idea of engaging interns because they’re a very cost-effective classification of worker. Student interns like coming to work in a company like yours because they can earn legitimate experience for their fledgling résumés and also because most colleges and universities have some requirements mandating the completion of internships.
But before you get ahead of yourself, remember that although many internships can be unpaid, other unpaid internships can violate federal labor laws. This is why it is a great idea to leave the whole process of engaging interns to your MSP (Managed Service Provider). Here’s what the MSP does to ensure your summer intern doesn’t come with an enormous price/penalty.
First and foremost, the MSP manages compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act regulations governing the utilization of non-paid interns in for-profit businesses. A good MSP will require any staffing providers serving their programs to perform the six-point test laid out by the FLSA to ensure that any interns assigned by the MSP represent no risk to the customer.
The six-point test (reprinted from the US Dept. of Labor Fact Sheet #71) requires the following six criteria to be applied in the assessment of candidates for non-paid internships:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If the intern candidate does not meet these six criteria, they may still be engaged; however, they must be paid some kind of honorarium. It need not be a full time salary, but should be fair compensation.
Handing this assessment off to MSP provider saves time and avoids risk of penalties. It gets even more complicated depending on which state you’re in, as many states enforce additional laws beyond those in the FLSA. Again, the solid MSP has already vetted its staffing suppliers in each state to ensure compliance at the state level as well.
More than just the compliance piece though, leveraging an MSP for hiring summer interns is also a good idea insofar as a strong MSP (and the suppliers that feed it) has well-developed relationships with educational institutions. With established connections to the schools, a good MSP enjoys deeper pools of intern talent than an organization may be able to develop on its own, given that internships are generally a brief, seasonal endeavor and not something that may be a high priority for internal workforce management to address.
If you’re interested in engaging some interns via your MSP, contact your nextSource representative today!