Is your nonprofit considering an internship program?

Are you aware of what legal issues to consider when hiring interns?

Internships provide an excellent opportunity for college and graduate students. Nonprofits who hire interns also reap considerable benefits for their organizations.

Before hiring your first intern, it’s important to identify the best way to structure your internship program. This will help to ensure compliance with employment laws. This will also aid in avoiding any potential liability issues related to interns.

Will your nonprofit offer unpaid or paid internships?

Classifying your intern as an employee or volunteer depends on  compensation.

The U.S. Department of Labor allows for unpaid internships in the nonprofit sector.  When looking to hire an unpaid intern, you must clearly label the position as a volunteer position in your job posting. Volunteers are individuals who volunteer their time for civic or humanitarian reasons. It’s typically best not to remit any compensation to an intern classified as a volunteer as that may blur the lines between a volunteer and employee characterization. However, Federal law does allow volunteers to be paid some reasonable benefits, a nominal fee such as a stipend, reimbursed expenses, for their service without losing their status as volunteers under FLSA.

Have your volunteer intern sign a volunteer service agreement that includes a waiver of liability.

If your nonprofit is going to offer compensation, then your intern may be considered an employee.

Employees are generally subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and other standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. These interns would be entitled to, at least, minimum wage. Have more questions regarding employment requirements? The Small Business Administration (SBA) has an amazing resource page that you can consult to ensure compliance.

What other liability issues concerning interns should we consider?

Check with your trusted insurance agent to determine if your intern is covered under your workers’ compensation insurance policy. If he or she is considered an employee, your insurance coverage may likely already cover your intern. However, if your intern is a volunteer, specifically check your policy to see if you need to add additional coverage.

Be certain that your interns know what organizational work policies apply to them, especially when it comes to donor and organizational confidentiality.

For more information on nonprofit insurance, contact your local insurance agent, Sandi Purinton with The Insurance Connection. Contact her at 678-439-8757 or to get a free insurance quote and review.

Disclaimer: This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusions. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. The Insurance Connection welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.