Between lawsuits and even deaths, the world of interns is changing— which is why it’s so important for employers to know the laws around internships.
Unpaid internships are becoming increasingly taboo, and in many cases even illegal. Companies are toning down and even eliminating their internship programs, in response to the death of a London intern who pulled eight all-nighters in two weeks, and in response to lawsuits by angry interns who were overworked or even sexually preyed upon.
Though your company is probably a pretty great place to work, how can you make sure your intern program stays on the ethical side of the law?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
In the words of Goldman Sachs co-head of investment banking, David Solomon, “[an internship] is a marathon, not a sprint.” Make sure you’re encouraging your interns to lead a balanced life. If your organization has an intramural sports team or other special interest groups, indicate to the interns that they’re encouraged to join, get involved, and have a life outside of work.
Fair treatment, fair pay
Unpaid interns have been known to sue— oftentimes successfully— for back pay. Avoid the headache and embarrassment of a lawsuit by paying your interns. You’ll not only get happier, more productive workers, but this will help you build your employer brand as a great place to work, as well.
Offer opportunities for growth
Oftentimes, interns work themselves to death— literally— thinking that pulling insane hours will get them ahead. Indicate to them that working too many hours is frowned upon, and though overtime is okay, eight all nighters in a row are not. Additionally, offering your interns opportunities to gain new skills, grow in your company, and potentially even come onboard as full employees is a wonderful way to train new workers, make better connections in the industry, and build a name for your company as an ideal place to get started.