What are the payroll considerations when hiring an intern?

So, you want to hire an intern?

There are a number of things to keep in mind regarding wage laws and more before bringing someone on board. One of the big questions for employers when hiring interns these days is whether the law requires that they get paid for their work.

Bottom line? It depends on what type of company is hiring them.

To pay or not to pay – Non-profits, public or charitable organizations can consider interns “volunteers” so they do not have to be paid. But for-profit companies must consult the Fair Labor Standard Act (FSLA), which requires them to pay employees for their work. Still, there is some flexibility in the law about who qualifies for compensation. For that reason, employers must review the U.S. Department of Labor’s Primary Beneficiary Test to determine a worker’s pay or no pay status.

Injuries on the job – Interns may be eligible for workers’ compensation whether in a paid or unpaid position while working for your business. Consult state laws for employees’ rights and what’s expected of your company.

Farming talent – Paying an intern now could save money down the road. Many interns have the potential to become part-time or full-time employees for your company. It could end up costing more to recruit a new full-time employee than to hire a former intern who’s already well-versed in company policy and work culture. Even before your business thinks about recruiting an intern to work there, provide expectations up front.

Planning is essential – Even before your business thinks about recruiting an intern to work there, provide expectations up front. Lay out the details involving compensation, potential school credit, who will be supervising the intern, the benefits of the work opportunity and the schedule. Make this information part of the job description.

These are just some quick tips, but you may have more questions, like:

  • What if you’re hiring a college student who lives in another state?
  • Should the intern be classified as non-exempt?

For answers to these questions and more, contact your IPS representative.

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