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How long can a paid internship last?

We have an intern that has worked during the summers while going to college for the past several years. He has always been paid, including required overtime. He came to work last summer and is still here and considered an intern. This means that he is getting paid, but not eligible for our benefits.

I have searched and cannot see this addressed anywhere. Any advice on this? I believe we need to hire him or end the "internship". I need something to present management as reasoning.

Thanks!

Answers

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

My .02 cents...(not really a recommendation but a guideline and some perspective/different POV?)

1. Do NOT let "legalities" guide your decisions/programs. When people ask what is "legal", it seems (not saying your company) that they only want to give or provide what is #2.
2. Bear in mind that the "legal/requirement" side of this is the FLOOR/BARE minimum and there is nothing stopping you from giving him some/more benefits (adjusting your policy) even if he only works certain periods/times.
3. Do NOT have even a semblance of the company taking advantage of "internship programs". There is a real REPUTATIONAL risk. Not to mention it is MORALLY reprehensible (at least in my opinion).
4. The purpose of internship is for the company to provide/help interns obtain the necessary skills and experience.....NEVER (I repeat, NEVER) the opportunity to have LOW cost workers. The former purpose trumps any benefits the company gets from the program.
5. You can transition him to a Contractual worker... and adjust his pay (I am assuming "getting paid" is at intern rate) and maybe some benefits. But even then, there are requirements.
6. The secondary purpose of an internship program is to find/attract talent. It seems that you like him/her. So keep that in mind. Again, you are not constrained by policy (you have the capability to change/modify or even create).

And lastly....
7. Do what is RIGHT and FAIR...and not be constrained by what is "legal".

Sorry if it sounded piousy (is that even a word?) but I see this a lot.

M Howell
Title: HR Manager
Company: Private
(HR Manager, Private) |

Thank you for your input. He isn't being used as "low cost labor" by any means and has been given raises along the years. Our intern program is typically summer only to help the intern - most of the time it is for a 2 1/2 to 3 month period at a time. Our company is very generous to its employee's but this situation is a little different in that it started as an internship that just continued. We do not have unpaid interns at all unless it is part of the education and just for a short period of time. Only know of two ever in a 40+ year history.

I was asking for input to see if there is something in the law that says they can only last a certain period of time to provide complete information as we attempt to transition this intern, not to force management to do anything they don't want to do.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

There are two types of internships.

1. Where the intern gets credit from an accredited educational institution. I highly doubt more than 2 terms of credit can be gained, but it is up to the institution. Obviously the other legal attributes with this type of internship need to be followed.

2. Where you pay the "intern". As long as you are following DOL (Fed/State/Loc) laws, indefinite.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Disagree that it is "indefinite"... The company is OPENING itself up for FLSA violations and another classification (trainee, contractor or employee) should be sought out for the intern.

"The internship should be of a fixed duration, established prior to the outset of the internship."

https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/labor-laws-intern-employee.aspx

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Emerson -

You can call a job title anything you want. But if you are paying them (which is can't be below min. wage) they've become an employee.

Limits are for unpaid intern. I covered that by the student getting credit from their educational institution. No credit, they MUST be paid.

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