When a small business owner considers hiring interns, volunteers, or summer help, there are several legal considerations that should be taken into account. This is general information. Please note that laws can vary by jurisdiction, so it’s essential to consult with an employment attorney who is familiar with the laws in your specific location.
Here are 8 common legal considerations:
- Classification: Determine whether the individuals will be classified as interns, volunteers, or employees. Interns and volunteers usually have different legal requirements compared to paid employees. Misclassifying workers can result in fines, penalties, and lawsuits, and even criminal charges if it is willful.
- Internship Programs: If you plan to have interns, ensure that the program complies with the legal requirements for internships in your jurisdiction. Internships should primarily benefit the intern by providing valuable training and learning experiences, rather than serving as a substitute for regular employment.
- Wage and Hour Laws: Ensure compliance with applicable wage and hour laws, including minimum wage requirements, overtime pay, and record-keeping obligations. Even if interns or volunteers are unpaid, they may still be entitled to certain protections under the law.
- Employment Contracts: Consider having written agreements or contracts in place, clearly outlining the terms and expectations of the working relationship. These contracts can help protect both parties and clarify important aspects such as duration, responsibilities, confidentiality, and termination conditions.
- Workplace Safety: Ensure that your workplace meets health and safety standards, regardless of whether individuals are interns, volunteers, or paid employees. Provide a safe working environment, adequate training, and any necessary protective equipment.
- Discrimination and Harassment: Treat all individuals equally and comply with anti-discrimination laws. Establish clear policies against harassment and discrimination, and provide training to all employees, including interns and volunteers, to prevent such issues from arising.
- Insurance Coverage: Review your insurance policies to determine if they adequately cover interns, volunteers, or summer help. You may need to update or modify your policies to include these individuals within the scope of coverage.
- Child Labor Laws: If you plan to hire minors for summer help, be aware of child labor laws that set restrictions on the hours they can work, the types of tasks they can perform, and the permits or documentation required.
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of legal considerations, and there may be additional factors specific to your industry or jurisdiction. Consulting with an employment attorney or seeking guidance from relevant government agencies will help ensure that you comply with all applicable laws and regulations.If you’re hiring, give us a call and schedule a legal strategy session, to ensure your business is protected.
THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. CONSULT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR JURISDICTION.