Washington State agencies have many different ways to provide meaningful work experience for individuals. Before bringing on additional staff, whether paid or unpaid, consult with your HR Business Partner to ensure you do not have any restrictions to consider first.
An intern has responsibility for:
Under certain conditions, interns may perform unpaid work. The test for determining whether an intern is paid as an employee depends on who benefits from the work completed. The United States Department of Labor provides guidance under federal law.
Internships should be for a fixed duration that is established prior to the start of the internship. It is also best to keep their weekly hours under 40. Completing a competitive recruitment process is highly recommended for both paid and unpaid internships.
Unpaid internships are usually a result of interest on the behalf of students but a lack of funding availability by the agency for a paid internship. Participation in an internship program is limited to students who have identified a degree program and are currently enrolled in that program: typically junior and senior level undergraduate and graduate students.
An unpaid intern may receive compensation during their internship, but this cannot be in the form of a regular wage. Compensation that is not intended to be a wage may be acceptable, this could include a stipend or reimbursement for expenses incurred during the internship. Unpaid internships are used for allowing the unpaid intern to gain experience at your agency and in turn, that intern gains academic credit through their university or college. Unpaid interns should never be used in lieu of regular workers or to supplement an employer’s workforce during specific periods. Unpaid internships are not entered into HRMS.
Paid interns are not gaining academic credits through their college or university and will be benefiting your agency (more than they’re benefiting their own education). There are job classifications for interns that can be established to provide an intern appropriate wages. Participation in an internship program is limited to students who have identified a degree program and are currently enrolled in that program: typically junior and senior level undergraduate and graduate students. Paid internships are entered into HRMS.
Work Ex is an internship program tailored to introduce military spouses and transitioning service members into the civilian workforce by providing exposure to industry requirements while gaining hands-on experience and meeting specific employer needs. Through a Work Ex career connected learning opportunity, agencies get to know the transitioning service member or military spouse within your organizations work environment. Agencies are under no obligation to offer a job to the candidate; rather this is a work experience which will enhance the ability of the candidate gaining full-time employment. The program does require that at a minimum, an informational interview be offered to the candidate at the completion of the Work Ex. For more information, reach out to the Work Ex Program Manager. Work EX interns are not entered into HRMS.
Volunteers may be paid a stipend or nominal fee. However, if they are paid for their services beyond reimbursement for expenses, reasonable benefits or a nominal fee, they are employees and not volunteers. Volunteers are not entered into HRMS.
WorkFirst is Washington State’s program to assist recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to meet their goals and provide well-being for their family. WorkFirst is a collaborative effort with families, WorkFirst case managers, and local community and partner agencies to build a stable foundation for employment, provide employment and training opportunities, and ultimately serve as a gateway to financial independence. WorkFirst volunteers are not entered into HRMS.