Tips from the intersection of workers' comp and business.

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It's not uncommon for many small business owners to get approached by college and graduate students for internships.

After all, in many cases, it's a win-win situation for both parties. The students get valuable on the job learning experience, and you get an extra set of hands around the office.

But as a business owner, internships aren't quite as cut and dry as they seem. There are a few considerations you should think about if you're considering working with interns in the near future.

Here are five questions to ask yourself before you hire an intern.

1. Are you going to pay your intern?

The first thing you need to decide is if you are paying your intern.

There are pros and cons to both sides.

Of course, having an unpaid intern means they won't factor in on your payroll. However, working with unpaid interns has its own specific set of rules and regulations that you must follow.

If you decide to pay your intern that can help expand the pool of qualified applicants. And it's great to find people who would love to work with your company and could provide an influx of fresh ideas. Paid internships also expand what tasks an intern is able to focus on—more on that below.

However, paying your intern will also have an impact under Colorado workers' comp insurance regulations too. Paid interns will result in changes to payroll and will need to have their job duties classified appropriately. That means you should add them to your workers' compensation insurance policy.

2. What are the internship regulations in your area?

It's always a good idea to check with the Department of Labor or Employment in your state for any particular rules. There are also potential benefits too. In Colorado, for example, companies that are in "innovative industries" can apply for grants that can help supplement internship costs.

The biggest thing to always keep in mind—especially when it comes to unpaid interns—is the internship must have a benefit to the intern. Essentially, that means the internship must not simply take the place of a paid roll. It must have an educational benefit to the student. The intern should learn along the way. You should never hire an intern to do the work a standard paid employee normally does.

3. What are the guidelines for working with unpaid interns?

When it comes to internships, there are specific rules and requirements set by the federal government.

Some of the rules include:

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires for-profit businesses to pay interns for their work.
  • The work of the intern should complement the work of paid employees, not replace it.
  • The internship should accommodate the academic schedule and commitments of the intern.
  • The intern's work can correspond to academic credits.

This checklist from the US Department of Labor can help you make sure you're in compliance.

4. Do you have a training guide set up?

One of the factors around unpaid internships that you'll need to think about is having some training guidelines. But keep in mind, it's also a good idea to set these up for your paid interns too.

In fact, having an established standard operating procedure and training guidebook can go a long way in ensuring that your organization is complying with the rules and your interns are getting a great on the job learning experience too. It will also help in your preparation for future interns, making the wrap-up and on-boarding process run smoothly.

5. Who will your intern report to?

Finally, don't forget to consider who your intern is going to report to in your company. It's a good idea to have a point person and a backup who are around to answer questions and help in training.

Plus, it's good business sense to meet with your interns regularly—maybe once or twice a month—to not only check in with them but get feedback on your business and processes too. Interns can serve as a fresh set of eyes or can introduce new digital tools into the office that can help your brand.

That's all a part of creating a positive working environment.

Of course, this should extend to your employees too. And a big part of that is making sure you and your employees have protection if they have a work-related accident. That's where workers' compensation insurance comes into play.

For businesses operating in Colorado, workers' comp insurance is a requirement. To make sure you are following the necessary rules and regulations contact Cake today or get a quote and buy your policy online in minutes.