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The Legal Ramifications of an Internship Program

Written by Shawn Turner

In the lead up to the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit on Feb. 27, Mind Your Business will be running a series of articles previewing some of the sessions that attendees will have the opportunity to sit in on. Today’s preview focuses on the legal aspects of internships. Click here to view the other preview articles for this year’s Internship Summit.

The value that internships provide to a business—increased generational diversity within their own workplace as well as the opportunity to provide students with valuable work experience, just to name a couple—are obvious. But, too often, employers are not aware of the potential legal ramifications of employing interns. That is a subject James McWeeney II, an attorney at Walter Haverfield LLP, will address in his presentation titled “Legal Aspects of Internships” during the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit. During a recent interview, McWeeney outlined several possible legal impacts employers should be aware of and consider regarding the interns and internship programs.

Two potential questions to consider:

Question No. 1: What about workers’ comp? Depending on the nature of the work an intern performs, the intern could be deemed an employee of the business. This designation could mean the business would be required to pay workers’ compensation under prevailing wage and labor laws.

Question No. 2: What about confidentiality? Internships also implicate questions of confidentiality. That is, if a business shares trade secrets or other information as part of an internship program, what obligation does the intern have to keep that information confidential and what protective measures can a business take to ensure the confidentiality of its information? “My goal,” Mr. McWeeney said, “is to educate businesses about internship programs. Employers interested in launching or building upon such programs need to be aware of these legal ramifications.”

Internship benefits Legal ramifications aside, McWeeney said he sees value in internship programs. “It really is that rite of passage,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to get out into the working world and begin making career-lasting connections.” “It’s just as good for the business as it is for young people,” he added. “The are the next generation of up-and-coming employees.”

Learn more about other best practices you need to know about internships by registering today for the 2018 Cleveland Internship Summit

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