Are you thinking about offering an internship at your organization? Internships can be a great way to provide students and young professionals with valuable work experience and skills while bringing a fresh perspective and ideas to your organization. However, creating a successful internship program requires careful planning and consideration. This guide will discuss what you should consider when offering and entering into an Internship Agreement.
Employment and internships are different. Internships are a short-term learning experience for individuals to gain practical on-the-job training and skill development in a particular field, while employment is a longer-term work arrangement where individuals are hired to perform specific job duties for compensation.
Before starting an internship program, it is important to outline the purpose of the internship and what you expect the intern will gain from the program. This will help you to define the description of the internship and communicate the expectations to the intern beforehand. It is better to outline the level of engagement, working hours, remuneration, and quality of work required. This will help the intern to understand their role and work effectively.
Internships may vary from a few weeks to several months, depending on the nature of the work and the intern's availability. The length and schedule must be determined after considering the course timing and other engagements of the intern. Pre-define the start date and end date of the internship program, this will help the intern to prepare for the internship and pre-plan other projects and programs. Also, define the expected hours of work to be completed each week by the intern. This will help the intern effectively balance their internship with other commitments.
The working hours must be within the maximum limit set out under the applicable Shops and establishments of the state where the internship program is offered.
Depending on the organization and the nature of the work, the internship can be either paid or unpaid. It is important to mention whether the internship is paid or not in the offer letter for the internship or internship agreement before starting the internship. If the internship is paid mention the stipend/compensation amount and how it will be calculated. The payment may be one-time, hourly, weekly, monthly, etc. You can also mention other benefits provided to interns such as completion certificates, networking opportunities, job offers, etc., in the internship agreement. Adding attractive benefits will help you find better talent for your organization.
The internship can be either in the office or remote location considering the nature of the internship. Having a remote internship option will help you find better talents from different geographic areas and will be more flexible for the intern to work. Under the internship agreement, you can mention the requirements for availing of a remote internship, including specific office hours, internet connectivity, a silent environment, etc.
Establishing a regular communication channel with the organization is a key factor when considering remote internships. In the Agreement, you can mention the details of the supervisor to whom the intern shall communicate regular updates and submit reports.
Before starting an internship program, ensure that the intern is able to effectively perform their assigned job/task, and provide an orientation session to familiarize the intern with the organization and their role. Also provide the intern with the necessary training and resources such as online subscription access, laptops, smartphones, etc. to help them perform their job effectively.
It is better to assign a mentor or supervisor to oversee the intern's work and provide guidance and support. The name and contact details of the supervisor can be directly included in the internship agreement. This will help the intern to effectively communicate and clear their doubts.
While working for your organization, the intern may have access to confidential information about the organization. It is always better to sign an Internship Agreement with a proper confidentiality clause or if required you can ask them to sign a detailed Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). You should also consider providing proper education and training on the importance of maintaining the confidentiality and the specific policies and procedures of the organization. This includes training your intern on data privacy, information security, and handling sensitive information.
You can also consider implementing appropriate access controls to restrict interns' access to confidential information necessary to complete their internship. This includes password protection, limited access to certain areas or systems, and other security measures to prevent unauthorized access.
Also immediately terminate the access to confidential information upon termination of the internship and should outline the consequences and remedies for breaching confidentiality in their internship agreement, including potential legal actions, and damages for any harm caused by a breach.
You should clearly define in your internship agreement and other policies who owns the Intellectual Property created by interns during their internship. This may include inventions, designs, software code, written materials, or other creative works. Also in the internship agreement, you can mention that the intern shall transfer the ownership of any intellectual property created during the internship to the organization. Generally, all intellectual property rights created by the intern during the internship period are owned by the organization, unless otherwise mentioned in the internship agreement.
It is important to create an inclusive and diverse environment that respects and values individual differences. This includes providing equal opportunities to all interns regardless of their background, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics. You can consider establishing a reporting mechanism for interns to report any incidents of discrimination, harassment, or bias at the organization.
Even though internships are not strictly covered under labour laws, basic protections under the applicable labour laws are applicable to interns including maximum working hours, workspace security, hygiene, etc. If the intern is considered an employee of the organization, the intern would also be entitled to minimum wages applicable in the respective states.
The POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) Act is applicable to your organization even if the intern is not considered an employee of your organization. In order to protect your organization from any legal action, it would be better to have a clear POSH policy to mention the guidelines of your organization.
Offering internships can be a valuable opportunity for both organizations and interns. However, it requires proper planning and consideration to create a successful internship program. You can set the right expectations, provide the necessary support, and mitigate potential legal risks. A well-structured internship program with a comprehensive internship agreement that covers major points discussed in this guide can create a positive and inclusive environment for interns to gain valuable work experience and contribute to the organization's success.