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November 15, 2013

Treat Your Interns Fairly

student intership lawyers

Internship programmes throughout the world are rising in popularity. From government departments to professional sports teams, young college and university undergraduates and graduate students are given the opportunity to join the workplace environments. They participate and experience the everyday operation of their assigned organizations. It has become a growing phenomenon.

Summer internship programmes are an important element of any student’s education. Internships provide “real world” experiences.

Certainly it is a wonderful incentive for any student to gain reputable work experience on their resumes.While internship programmes seem worthy in nature, there may be a direct relationship between planning, respect, and instructional input from the employer to the quality and value output from the intern. In other words, employers need to treat interns in a fair way, not as sub-employees.

Respect the intern

Yes, often interns may not be paid or may be given a small stipend or honorarium. For the intern, the “experience” is the reward. We as employers must give the intern the same human rights and dignity as any other employees. Furthermore, interns should be included in all workplace rules and regulations set out by HR. In fact, I believe it is the legal right of employers to insist on their inclusion.

What I find very curious about internship programmes is there really are no laws guiding them. Like the beginning of the internet (no pun intended!!) presently, internship programmes are like the “wild west”.Most interns are treated fairly; others are taken advantage of with very little repercussions. Eventually internship rights will need to be developed to protect all interns, in the meantime, we as employers can always attempt to do the fair thing.

Remember, internship programmes are referred to “try and buy” for a reason. The intern and the company evaluate each other and the opportunities for the future. Interns can promote or demote your brand!

Storage rooms for offices? Uncomfortable chairs?

I have heard horror stories about the work space for interns. Being located in a storage room or in the photocopier room just isn’t right.

One area that an employer can, at a minimum, treat their interns fairly is by allowing them to occupy updated, ergonomic seating and desking. Often employers may give old chairs, desks, or even tables that they may have in storage. This alone can send a message to the intern that they are “class B” citizens.

Short-term seating and desking rental solutions

The better option is to rent for the period of the internship, quality CSA approved seating, and work surfaces from reputable furniture rental companies.

There are many ways to say thank you on an ongoing basis from a coffee from Tim’s or muffins to an email of praise (that they’ll likely share with their mom!) But they will thank you when you treat them well. They will return the favour with a higher level of production.

The youth of Canada are our future. It’s the means that determines the end.

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