Part IV - DOL Criteria, Follow the Rules
Part IV Displacement And Supervision Issues
We all know that many internships are not quality. As a matter of fact, they end up being downright boring, not what the intern expected or worse, their talents were misused. Employers need to have a plan and processes and systems in place when bringing interns on board. The DOL is clear about what is considered an internship versus an employee. Selecting to use interns that are seeking school credit is one way of staying out of the weeds. However, employers may also use talent that is looking for experience only.
So how does a company protect itself and the intern? Have a planned and well-designed program in place that protects the intern talent and the company is key. There are a number of ways to stay in compliance: Job descriptions with a set of hard/soft skills (interpersonal skills for those averse to the term 'soft skill's') is critical. Second, make sure the internship provides job skills with proper mentoring in their area of discipline.
Refer to the DOL criteria (below) to understand if you are following DOL guidelines. One thing I won't do is paraphrase legal government verbiage. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me and chat about your program.
If an employer uses interns as substitutes for regular workers or to augment its existing workforce during specific time periods, these interns should be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek. If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will be viewed as employees and entitled compensation under the FLSA. Conversely, if the employer is providing job shadowing opportunities that allow an intern to learn certain functions under the close and constant supervision of regular employees, but the intern performs no or minimal work, the activity is more likely to be viewed as a bona fide education experience. On the other hand, if the intern receives the same level of supervision as the employer’s regular workforce, this would suggest an employment relationship, rather than training.