Internships are a great way for interns to gain short-term work experience in a field they are considering for their career without needing to commit to that career path should the experience not be what they were expecting. Internships can also help internship providers test new ideas or projects without needing to divert internal resources away from core activities. However, when offering internships it is important to understand if you need an internship contract or if an other agreement such as an employment contract might be more appropriate. This article shares 5 examples of work experience to help you determine if you need an internship agreement or if.
Unpaid work shadowing in a local business
Work shadowing is an entry level type of internship during which an intern will shadow experienced team members for the duration of the internship. Shadowing gives interns a glimpse of what it's like to work in a company and is not likely to convey an economic benefit to the company. A work shadowing intern is likely to be treated as a volunteer and will not be paid or receive benefits in kind. To formalise this type of unpaid internship, you can can consider entering into a volunteer internship agreement.
Paid work experience contributing services to a project for a fixed period of time
If you are hiring a social media intern to design a set number of templates or if you are hiring an intern for a fixed-term to develop a new project then it is likely your intern will be treated as a consultant or a paid worker. You can use a consultancy agreement to contract an intern for a set of deliverables for a set price or you can use a worker internship agreement and pay the intern at least the national minimum wage.
Part-time work experience contributing services on a casual basis
If you are hiring an intern on a part-time or casual basis with no set working days or specified hours of work then you can use a worker internship agreement. If you are taking on an intern in a restaurant you might also consider a zero hour contract.
A student internship to complete a University Course
University courses sometimes require students to complete full-time work experience for a minimum duration and submit an internship report in order to obtain their degree. As the student intern is likely to access confidential information and develop intellectual property during the course of the internship, an internship agreement ensures that this information and intellectual property rights don't transfer over to the University. It is also essential to understand with the internship program, what the requirements of the report are so that the contents of the report do not breach the terms of the internship agreement. Student internship agreements can be entered into with the University (convention de stage) or with the student directly (internship agreement).
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Full-time work experience performing a job role
If your intern has a job title and is working indefinitely for your company on a full-time basis then it is likely, depending on their eligibility, that they should be treated as an employee with a pension, holiday entitlement and all the other rights and obligations of full-time employment. Using an employment contract will ensure that these rights are clear to the company and the employee. If you would like to evaluate your employee before keeping them on a full-time basis you can include a probationary period in their employment contract.
Why use an agreement when hiring interns?
Not using a contract when hiring interns regardless of the type of work experience presents a number of risks for your business. If the intern is likely to be exposed to confidential information and trade secrets during the course of the internship it is essential you have an agreement in place to protect your company. If the intern is providing services, an agreement ensures that intellectual property rights are owned by the internship provider. Finally, if an intern is likely to process company data, an agreement with the right data protection clauses ensure that you have satisfied your data protection obligations.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.