06/21/14 By Jennifer Brown

Last Sunday, Marissa Levin, CEO of Successful Culture and Chairman of Information Experts, and I discussed the value of internships to a business as well as some landmines to avoid during a segment on the Washington Business Report. You can click here for the video.

The following is an excerpt from that segment:

Making Internships Work

A local small business expert says if a company thinks of interns as free labor, it might get itself in trouble. About four years ago, the Department of Labor issued guidance on unpaid internships, and this guidance includes six criteria – all of which must be met to substantiate an unpaid internship, says Jen Brown, CEO of PeopleTactics.

If an employer derives any immediate benefit from the intern’s work or uses interns to displace regular employees, they are obliged by law to pay the interns.

There have been a number of lawsuits brought by interns in recent years and more often than not the courts are finding for the interns.

“It’s very easy for an intern to file a complaint with their State wage and hour office or the Department of Labor or to find an attorney who will take on such a case,” Brown says.

“To me, it’s just not worth the risk…all you have to do is pay your interns minimum wage and any applicable overtime pay — this will ultimately be much less expensive than the time, money, and stress spent in dealing with a lawsuit, back pay, fines and penalties,” she told Washington Business Report.

YOUR TURN: How do you set-up successful internships?

Jennifer Brown is the founder of PeopleTactics LLC, she is devoted to helping small business owners implement solutions to prevent Human Resources problems that drain them of their time, money, and energy. Jennifer works with small businesses in order to help them build stronger employee relationships, understand and comply with employment laws, establish policies, and set up easy-to-use HR systems to consistently avoid problems.

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