Internships & Keeping your Company Legal

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April 27, 2010

The season for companies to hire interns is quickly approaching. Current hiring trends show more Indianapolis job openings are being filled with interns than ever before due to the current economy . In addition, not only are students looking for internship opportunities, many unemployed Central Indiana job seekers are also seeking these as they are making career changes or looking to gain new experience.

Unpaid administrative, accounting finance and HR internships in Indianapolis have been a great opportunity for students who get academic credit in lieu of a paycheck. In this current Central Indiana job market, with the unemployment rate hovering near 10%, job-search sites like CareerBuilder and are reporting increases in the number of postings for internships. More and more college graduates and even middle-aged professionals are willing to work for free in hopes that it will help them land a paying Central Indiana job.

The caution for Central Indiana employers is this:  volunteering at for-profit companies is, legally, not allowed. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has spelled out several criteria with the goal of ensuring that internships not only provide real training but also can’t be used by companies to displace regular employees.

"It can be very tempting if you’re laying off employees to bring in free help and call it an internship, but most career-services operations are fairly sophisticated in weeding those out."

The DOL regularly does outreach with colleges to help protect the rights of students. Because of the influx of older interns, many of whom graduated years ago, this is also on the DOL’s radar screen because the legal requirements aren’t any different.

Central Indiana employers need to make sure they are legally compliant before bringing bringing in unpaid interns!