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A major publishing company has revised its mandates for unpaid interns, in an apparent response to recent unpaid internship lawsuits. Should your small business follow suit?
Unpaid interns have sued Hearst Corporation and Fox Searchlight Pictures for allegedly violating wage and labor laws. The companies failed to follow federal standards for unpaid internships, the lawsuits claim.
Now Condé Nast, a division of New York-based Advance Publications, has issued seven new mandates for its unpaid internships, The Atlantic reports. The mandates state that interns:
The mandate against personal errands conforms to the Department of Labor's unpaid internship guidelines. Interns must be given tasks that benefit them, and receive training similar to what would be given in an educational environment, the guidelines state.
The rule requiring a mentor also mirrors a federal guideline that interns be closely supervised by a staff member.
But the company's other new mandates don't seem to address the Department of Labor's criteria for unpaid internships at all. The Atlantic even went so far as to call the reforms an "empty gesture."
Bottom line: If you're thinking about revising your unpaid internships, the federal guidelines may be a better place to start than Condé Nast's new rules. You may also want to consult an employment attorney to make sure your unpaid interns are legal.