A Brief Introduction About the Internship Agreement
An internship is a type of work experience provided to students and graduates to help them acquire the relevant skills required in the profession. This would help the interns in their future employment opportunities. An internship is a temporary opportunity and could be paid or unpaid. When you want to hire someone as an intern, you need an internship agreement. When it comes to the labor laws, paid interns are on par with the other employees in your company. While drafting an unpaid internship agreement, it is important to be acquainted with the unpaid internship laws.
To hire an unpaid intern, there are six criteria which must be met:
- The internship would be like training provided by educational institutions
- The intern stands to benefit from the experience
- No regular employee is displaced, the intern is supervised by existing staff
- There is no quantifiable benefit due to this employment; it would be more of an impediment
- There are no job guarantees
- The parties to the agreement are aware that the intern is not entitled to wages
Who Takes the Internship Agreement – People Involved
There are two parties involved in an internship agreement, the company or institution, and the intern. The company that is hiring the intern is either providing work experience required as part of a professional course or trying to identify new talent for a suitable position. The intern is benefited through skills which are required for their chosen careers.
Purpose of the Internship Agreement – Why Do You Need It
An internship, whether it is unpaid or paid, would have specific responsibilities for both parties, the institution, and the intern. A student or a graduate could have the edge over their peers having the same skills when applying for jobs if they can acquire relevant experience through an internship. The student, therefore, has an objective when they are applying for the internship and would look for specific companies who are offering these internships.
The student will require experience in certain areas which either relate to their course or the profession of their choice. The internship is for a short period, ranging from one month to three months.
The company or institution hiring an intern would also have a goal in mind while hiring an intern. Companies look for new talent through interns, and if they see potential, then they hire them for training opportunities in the company.
If there is no agreement, then the student might be irregular during the internship or not carry out his or her responsibilities as required, then the employer cannot take any legal action against the intern. On the other hand, if the employer does not provide the required exposure to the intern, either due to lack of facilities or malefic intention, then the intern has no access to legal recourse due to the absence of an agreement.
Contents of the Internship Agreement – Inclusions
The contents of the agreement should include all the relevant information regarding the kind of internship being offered, the responsibilities of both parties, and the objective.
An internship contract should contain the following information:
- Parties to the agreement: The name of the organization or institution hiring the intern and the full name of the intern
- Address of the organization or institution: The complete communication address must be provided
- Purpose of the agreement: The purpose of hiring the intern should be clearly stated
- Type of internship: Whether this is an unpaid or voluntary internship or a paid internship
- Remuneration for the internship: The remuneration details should be provided, including the frequency at which the same will be paid. It could be on a monthly or weekly basis
- Duties to be performed: There should be a clear description of the duties to be performed by the intern including the department that the intern will be working in
- Supervisor details: The name and designation of the supervisor who will be supervising the work of the intern
- Tenure of the internship: The starting and the ending date of the internship
- Governing law: The laws of the state applicable to this agreement and should cover laws relating to unpaid or voluntary interns
- At-will status: This clause ensures that both the employer and the intern can terminate the agreement as and when they require without assigning any reason
- Rights and liabilities: The rights and liabilities of both the employer and the intern should be mentioned
How to Draft the Internship Agreement
While drafting internships, it is important to understand the nature of the internship involved in the agreement. You could use an internship agreement template and then customize it to your requirements.
While drafting an agreement, it is essential to keep the following points in mind:
- Who is involved in the agreement: The parties to the contract and the relationship between them?
- Date from which the agreement will be effective
- Will it be an unpaid internship or a paid internship? There are specific rules that need to be kept in mind when drafting an agreement for an unpaid internship
- The applicable laws: The laws of the state where the contract is being drafted.
- Remuneration being paid: Is the remuneration being paid for the agreement in line with the minimum wage stipulations in that state
- The duration of the agreement: The starting and ending dates of the agreement. If there are any clauses to be incorporated as far as the extension of the internship, wherever applicable
- A clear description of the duties to be performed: The duties of the intern need to be specified so that it is known what is expected of them
- Background of employer: The details of the employer need to be incorporated in the agreement as the employer needs to be eligible to offer such internships
The intern should find out the facilities that the employer has before entering into this agreement. The employer should have a background in the particular area which the intern needs experience. If the employer can provide the required exposure, then the intern can negotiate the internship fee with the employer.
Benefits & Drawbacks of the Internship Agreement
The benefits of an internship agreement are:
- Protection of interest: The interests of both parties to the agreement are protected. The intern knows that he or she will acquire the required skills to excel in their profession by undergoing the internship and also get the agreed fee. The employer is assured of a high-quality intern and depending on the performance of the intern; permanent positions could be considered in future
- Career benefits: An intern will be at an advantage when it comes to the recruitment of graduates as they would have relevant experience along with the qualification
- Prevention of exploitation: In the case of unpaid or voluntary employees, there are certain laws to determine the nature of the internship so that the intern cannot be exploited
The drawbacks of an internship agreement are:
- Lack of opportunities: Some companies hire interns to do certain low skill jobs like photocopying documents. If the intern takes the employer to court, it could jeopardize the career of the intern. This leads to the exploitation of interns
- Interrupting workflow: Some unpaid interns need to be taught certain skills, and they are allotted a supervisor. Much time is spent on the intern, and this disrupts the workflow
What Happens in Case of Violation of Internship Agreement
There are two types of agreements, paid and unpaid.
In the case of an unpaid internship, the intern gets hands-on exposure in a specific field of knowledge. There are, however, certain criteria which must be fulfilled before hiring of unpaid interns(1). For example, they cannot be used for the financial benefit of the company. If it is found that the employer has used the employee for commercial gain, this will amount to a violation of the agreement. The employer will be penalized according to the laws of the state relating to unpaid interns(2).
The intern is expected to perform certain duties during the internship, and certain performance benchmarks need to be adhered to. If the intern fails to attain these performance levels, that too is a violation of the agreement, and the services of the intern are violated. If the intern shares confidential information with a third party, that too is a breach of the confidentiality clause and is deemed a violation of the agreement and is liable to be penalized. If the employer does not provide the necessary exposure to the intern due to lack of facilities in the organization, that is also a breach of contract, and the employer can be taken to court by the intern.
If you are an intern looking for an opportunity to get hands-on exposure at an organization or an institution or if you are an organization looking to hire an intern, then it is advisable to have an internship agreement.
If the employer identifies the right intern and selects him or her, it would be an asset for the company. The intern could be offered a training program with the organization and hired for a suitable position. The employer needs to provide the right kind of resources and the facilities to ensure that the intern has the right learning environment. The employer should also pay the intern according to the industry standard. If the intern likes to work environment in the company, then you have a long-term asset.
The intern needs to study the company that is offering an internship position. The intern needs to find out about the management and the prospects of the company before applying.