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Internships 101: Studying Up for the FLSA Test

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It’s one of the greatest battles in the professional world. No, not Mac or PC. Not decaf versus caffeine. Not blue ink against black. No, in this two-part series we’ll tackle the central debate of your company’s intern program: To pay or not to pay?

In the past, internships have been equated to apprenticeships: the student learns from the master in a real-world industry environment. In this traditional view, the interns are beholden to the company for the work experience, knowledge and contacts they’ve received. Unpaid internships have been such a common business practice that they’re seen as a rite of passage for college students – a time to test their mettle, pay their dues. To some extent this is still true, but companies shouldn’t simply default to offering unpaid internships without doing their homework. The modern American internship has changed.

Let’s talk legality. Because unpaid internships have such a long history, most people think they’re completely legal. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets down a rather rigid six-point test for determining if a student’s work really meets unpaid status. All six points must be met, not just one or two. You can read the entire law at the Department of Labor website, but we’ve boiled down the criteria here:

  • The internship is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees,
  • The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job after the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages

To help ensure your company is in compliance, we’ll read a couple of these more closely. Point three, the intern does not displace regular employees. Let’s looks at an example in the hospitality industry: If you lay off regular staff (waiters, sous chefs, bussers, clerks, office staff, guides, aides, etc.) at the beginning of summer because you’re going to supplement your workforce with unpaid interns, you’d be in violation of the FLSA. If an intern could prove that a company even delayed hiring (rather than firing) needed staff until after summer interns completed their term, an intern could be awarded wages.

Next, point four, if your interns create an “immediate advantage” for your company, directly affecting your earnings, they must be paid at least the federal minimum wage. If you have a consulting firm, and you bill your client for the hours your intern spends working on his project, the intern is entitled to be paid.

A word to non-profitsThe FLSA litmus test for paying interns applies only to for-profit companies; non-profits can usually label their interns as volunteers. If your non-profit doesn’t have the budget for paid interns, see if there are other ways – like offering a small stipend or paying transportation costs – you can attract qualified candidates.

The FLSA rules for the for-profit sector have been in place for years, but more and more, they’re actually being enforced. There have been several high profile lawsuits in the last two years brought forth by interns who were asked to work beyond the scope of an educational experience. The interns won.

So, unless you have a very carefully planned intern program, unpaid interns can actually be something of a legal liability. But rather than worry about the minimum legal requirements, let’s learn how to maximize internships for both the student and your company. In part two of Internships 101, find out how a paid internship program can benefit  your company and actually save you money in the long run.

As far as the Mac versus PC debate goes or the question of regular or decaf… you’re on your own.

Legal Disclaimer: None of the information provided herein constitutes legal advice on behalf of Paycom.



Author Bio: Newman Wells is a writer, designer and entrepreneur with over 20 years of corporate marketing experience. Passionate about B2B marketing, Newman Wells specializes in helping businesses define their value propositions by simplifying technical jargon for easier-to-digest messages that drive sales. She has spent the last two decades building successful marketing departments from the ground up and has been Paycom's director of marketing since 2005.

WOTC Tax Credits

What Tax Credits Are You Leaving on the Table?

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Federal tax credits for businesses are far from easy if you aren’t familiar with the program, and business leaders may find themselves in unfamiliar territory when it comes to their company’s eligibility for tax credits. As a leading provider of comprehensive human capital management software, we have found that the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is one Federal tax credit many leaders underutilize, meaning that they are leaving money on the table when it comes time to do their taxes.

In fact, one Paycom client in the fast-food industry found $447,000 in government-appropriated funds available once they took full advantage of the tax credits available to them. Read more about this client’s experience in our recent case study.

Is your organization is leaving money on the table?

The Purpose of WOTC

WOTC was designed to encourage employers to hire people from segments of the general population who have “consistently faced barriers to employment.”

On average, one in eight new hires potentially qualifies for the WOTC, and that number increases when it comes to the fast-food industry, in which one in four new hires is potentially eligible for the credit.

What WOTC Means for Your Company

Depending on which target group your new hire represents, the number of hours they work and the wages they earn determine the amount of the credit, you can receive up to $9,600 for each eligible new hire.

Like the client in our case study, you may find, that many of the people in your hiring pool are already eligible for the tax credit. They received an average of $1,128 per certified employee.

Who You Can Hire

Qualifying new hires can be full- or part-time workers. They must belong to specific “target groups” designated by the U.S. Department of Labor. These target groups are populations of people who are able and willing to work, but have found barriers to employment for a variety of reasons. Target groups include:

  • veterans
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients
  • SNAP recipients
  • designated community residents (living in empowerment zones or rural renewal counties)
  • summer youth employees living in designated communities
  • long-term unemployed

 

 How You Can Receive These Tax Credits

To receive these tax credits, 8850 and 9061 forms must be completed on or before the job offer and sent to your state employment agency within 28 days of the employee’s first day of work. The client in our case study was able to save 75 hours (nearly two weeks of work!) by working with Paycom to process their available tax credits.

If you’re intimidated by or unaware of Work Opportunity Tax Credits, you’re not alone. But you might be missing out by leaving money on the table. Paycom clients using its tax credits service pay nothing for the search if they are found to have eligible employees. Want to learn more about WOTC? Sign up for our August 3 webinar “What’s New With WOTC” to learn the most up-to-date information on WOTC and ask questions specific to your business.

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Featured, Franchises, Hospitality, Restaurant

Rich Stupansky

by Rich Stupansky


Author Bio: Rich came to Paycom in January of 2010 from Cleveland Ohio and is the Director of Tax Credits at Paycom. Rich was instrumental in developing and creating our tax credits program. Rich has more than 12 years’ experience with federal tax credits and an extensive background in working with companies of all sizes to maximize their full tax credit potential.

Orientation

Orientation or Onboarding: Does It Matter?

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“Onboarding” and “orientation” are buzzwords you’ll see thrown around a lot in discussions on human capital management (HCM), and with good reason: It’s a costly investment to hire the right person for a valuable position, and it’s important to ensure that your new hires feel valued and engaged so that they can remain a contributing member of your team.

What can you do to ensure that your new hires become quality employees? A good place to start is figuring out the distinction between onboarding and orientation. Orientation should be part of your onboarding plan, but it shouldn’t be the sum total of it.

“Orientation” refers to the brief period during which a new hire receives all-employee training and information (often in a classroom setting) and fills out the required paperwork. “Onboarding,” however, is a way to ensure the long-term success of a new hire, and often lasts between six months and a year.

Making strategic use of your HCM technology can streamline your orientation process, but it also can significantly improve your onboarding process, helping you retain and engage new hires. We explore this concept in our white paper, 4 Ways Your HCM Technology Should Enhance Your Onboarding Processes.

Robust HCM technology can help you improve engagement and retention of new hires, plugging them into your company culture and giving them the opportunity to start doing real work sooner.

Improving Employee Engagement From the Beginning

Utilizing HCM technology during onboarding gives you unparalleled opportunities to improve engagement and retention of your new hires. A study by the Brandon Hall Group found that 54% of companies that invested time and resources into their onboarding processes noted improved turnover, improved attendance, productivity and satisfaction. (And 78% of the companies in the study saw an increase in revenue!)

Making the onboarding process simpler is one way to improve the engagement of new hires. Using a true single-application HCM system, for example, will allow your new hires to complete important paperwork for taxes and benefits efficiently.

Onboarding Beyond Orientation to Promote Success

The first few months of your new employees’ time at your organization are crucial for their long-term success and even for their retention at your organization. Almost a third of new hires look for a new job at the six-month mark, so what can you do to keep your valuable new team members?

A strategic onboarding program can help your new hires become increasingly more comfortable with and invested in your company. Having training and time-management capabilities in the same HCM system that your new hires already have become familiar with minimizes onboarding strain on your new hires (and on your HR department). A new employee typically takes about eight months to reach his or her full productivity level, according to research from the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey. Anything you can do to help them get up to speed more quickly, particularly in those crucial first several months, will allow them to become more productive and more engaged employees, which contributes to an enhanced employee experience. 

One of the main benefits of a robust HCM system is that new hires are able to start actively contributing to your organization more quickly.

To know more ways your HCM tech can improve your onboarding processes, and in turn improve your retention and productivity of new hires, download our white paper.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Featured

Chad Raymond

by Chad Raymond


Author Bio: With over 19 years of experience in employee engagement, benefits administration and government compliance, Chad has unparalleled knowledge in the fields of leadership and human resources. Chad has worked in several different capacities with Paycom including leading our product development team and HCM initiatives as well as the former director of Paycom’s service department. Chad’s vision and execution helped empower executives and their teams to reach their full potential, ultimately leading to his role as Paycom’s vice president of HR.

Break Down Silos

How to Break Down Silos: A U.S. Military Formula for Today’s Business Execs

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Some business leaders find that “silos” develop within their organization, where departments do not communicate effectively with one another, hindering efficiency (particularly in interdepartmental goals and projects). Implementing interdisciplinary task forces when appropriate can give your organization the agility necessary to innovate and respond to external challenges.

In Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, just 11% of survey respondents stated that they understood how to build “the organization of the future.” Deloitte notes that one key element of a forward-facing organization is an emphasis on successfully implemented interdisciplinary teams.

A focus on this interdisciplinary teamwork doesn’t require moving away from a traditional business model, but it does allow increased agility and efficiency by encouraging interdepartmental cooperation, no matter the size of your organization

Deloitte refers to the United States Department of Defense (DOD) as one organization that makes excellent use of its teams. With over 7 million personnel in total, the U.S. military has developed agile teams based on thorough information about employee skills and experience – no small feat for an organization of that size!

Whether you have 70 employees or 7 million, you can prevent the silo effect and improve your organization’s efficiency and agility by taking a cue from the U.S. military’s successful team-based structure.

Tracking Employee Skills and Experience

The U.S. DOD keeps detailed record of the skills and specialties of each member, including a history of their service and any relevant non-DOD skills. Levels of experience, responsibility and authority are recorded in a way that everyone in the organization recognizes.

Because of this, the DOD is able to coordinate agile teams based on a particular assignment or project. These teams achieve highly targeted goals. Once a deployment or another project is completed, these teams can be re-formed or new teams can be developed relatively easily because of the detailed data.

Creating Agile Teams for Specific Goals

It’s important to know what skill sets and experience are available within your employee pool in order to make and break teams quickly. And because the teams the DOD creates are based on experience and expertise, they can work to accomplish very specific goals.

One key element of the DOD’s creating, disbanding and re-creating of teams is job security. Military personnel know that if they are assigned to a team or project, they will not lose their jobs once that project is over. Instead, they will be added to another team where their insight and experience can make an impact.

This creates an agility to the DOD organizational structure that rarely is paralleled in the business world.

Applying This to Your Business

What does this mean for your business? For starters, the success of the DOD’s team-based organization demonstrates that interdisciplinary teams can be used effectively, even in a very large organization.

Their teamwork is enabled by up-to-date, robust information on employee skills and experience to allow the creation of the right teams to solve specific problems. Often these are project-based teams that may reform or disband after the completion of the project while maintaining job security.

Having a reliable record of the skills and experience of your employees gives you the flexibility to put the right people to work solving a problem, even if they don’t typically work together. In a quickly changing business world, looking to the U.S. Department of Defense as an example of successful interdepartmental teamwork can help your organization find more agile and effective solutions to the challenges you face.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Leadership, Talent Management


Author Bio: A writer, speaker and business leader, Jason has been the communications pulse for a number of organizations, including Paycom where he is the director of public relations and corporate communications. A featured writer on human capital management technology, leadership and the Affordable Care Act, Jason launched Paycom’s blog, webinar platform and social media channels, helping empower organizations around the nation. Jason is attuned to the needs of businesses and helped develop a tool to aid organizations in their pursuit to comply with the ACA; one of the largest changes in healthcare the country has seen. While working in athletics for ESPN and FoxSports, Jason learned the importance of hard work and branding. In his free time he enjoys adventuring with his family, reading and exploring new areas to strengthen his business acumen.

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