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What Business Owners Need to Know About Internships and Labor Laws

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Internships are a great way for students to build new skills and gain experience. Although interns are often unpaid, internship programs are still subject to federal and state labor laws. Whether you are a new startup or a seasoned business owner, it’s important to know the legalities of labor laws, especially when offering unpaid internships.

Fair labor standards act guidelines

One common misconception among employers about internships is that many think that they do not have to pay interns or can simply hire internship candidates as contractors. This isn’t necessarily true. If the internship does not satisfy the test for an unpaid internship, interns must be paid as an employee. However, it’s possible that an intern could be deemed a contractor, which is unlikely in most cases.

In addition to myriad changes to state and federal labor laws over the past decade, in 2018, the Department of Labor changed its test used to determine whether an internship is unpaid or not.

Related: Paying Interns Is a Good Investment In the Future of Your Business

This federal law, known as The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), requires all “for-profit” companies (and some non-profit companies) to pay all of their employees. FLSA’s test for employers is used to determine whether or not interns should be compensated for their work. Before 2018, the test required that all six elements be met to determine whether or not an intern should be paid.

Today’s updated FLSA guidelines are more flexible; not every factor must be met. Commonly referred to as the “primary benefit test,” there are now seven non-exclusive factors that may entitle interns to be paid at least minimum wage:

  • The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation; any promise of compensation, expressed or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa
  • The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions
  • The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit
  • The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar
  • The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning
  • The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern
  • The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job after the internship

What are the requirements for an internship?

Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of what is considered an internship regarding federal law. However, the broad definition considers paid internship (AKA apprenticeships) as allowing interns to gain practical experience by being tasked with duties typical of the day-to-day work of said profession. In unpaid internships, the responsibilities tasked must be considered adjacent to the work that is regularly done; that is, employers cannot task unpaid interns with assignments in a manner that the intern takes on the role that would have been otherwise assigned to a paid employee.

Related: 3 Ways to Make an Internship Invaluable, Regardless of Pay

While a paid intern is simply considered an employee, an unpaid intern is a student working for an employer for educational purposes. The “primary benefit test” ensures that the student is the primary beneficiary of the internship relationship. Still, there are some general rules of thumb to follow for consideration:

Is the student getting academic credit? If not, it’s a strong indication that the internship should be a paid position.

In writing, has it been made clear that the internship is unpaid? Transparency is paramount. Any internship opportunities or employment offers should be in writing, and intentions should be clear. There should be no question as to whether or not the student will be paid.

Is the internship flexible? Does it allow the intern to go to classes and attend other academic commitments? It may be hard to argue that an internship is not paid employment if an employer is inflexible with a student’s academic commitments.

Is the intern performing services that otherwise would be performed by employees? Unpaid Internships are not meant to displace paid work; they are meant to give students “real-life” experience in the field.

Most importantly, internships should have clear educational components — not just actionable work. The goal of an internship is to learn and gain experience. It’s important to set clear expectations for potential interns. Many may expect their internship to turn into full-time employment, so it is key to explain in writing that there is no guarantee of employment after the internship or after graduation. Like any other employment, you should make clear employment is “at will.”

Related: You Get What You Pay For: Making The Case For Paid Internships

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10 Things Every Working Woman Should Do This Year

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Self-care has become an all-encompassing term that has strayed from the importance of everyday commodities that keep us in good health and spirits. Though pampering and “treat yourself” moments still have value, here are ten ways to invest in yourself to produce long-lasting, positive results.

Related: 8 Self-Care Tips From Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Put money into a 401(k)

It’s never too early (or too late!) to start saving for the future. Depending on your employment status, there are different retirement savings accounts. 401(k)s are the most common since these are employer-sponsored and often come with an employer match. However, freelancers also have options, such as a SEP-IRA or a high-yield savings account, to put away extra, tax-free dollars for retirement.

2. Schedule a health checkup

Self-care first includes taking care of your physical health. It’s easy to discredit regular checkups when you’re feeling healthy, but make this the year to get your blood work done. It creates a baseline for your health to identify areas needing improvement or extra attention.

Also, choose areas in your life where you can make small changes. Improving your health doesn’t always mean a drastic overhaul; it may be as simple as drinking more water or adding an extra 30 minutes of exercise to your day.

Related: 3 Key Tips for Optimizing Your Physical Health as an Entrepreneur

3. Review health insurance benefits

Many people with health insurance aren’t sure exactly what it does and doesn’t cover. If you’re unsure, talk with your HR representative or your health insurance provider to get an overview of deductibles, co-payments and other supplemental benefits you may not be aware of. Then, decide if the health care plan makes sense for your current lifestyle.

Are you paying for benefits you don’t use, or do you need additional benefits that aren’t covered? Selecting the right plan will help ensure you have what you need without paying the extra expense for anything you don’t.

4. Ignite your curiosity

Maintaining healthy cognitive functions through new pursuits gives a boost to the brain. Get curious and find what speaks to you. This can be anything from exploring local museums, embarking on different hiking trails, learning a new language or reading more books.

There’s no limit to what you can do, and these activities can ignite more creativity and motivation in your work. While it may be helpful to look to others for inspiration, make them enjoyable so you’ll want to make them a regular occurrence.

5. Prioritize mental health

Mental health has been at the forefront of people’s lives over the past few years, as many have experienced burnout. We often equate productivity with a value that drives us to go beyond our means and leads to anxiety, stress and depression. Take note of your everyday stressors and see how to reduce or eliminate them. Then, replace them with relaxing outlets that allow you to recharge.

There are various ways to prioritize mental health, from practicing positive self-talk to meditation to scheduling an electronics-free day. You may have to try different solutions before you find one that fits.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health as an Entrepreneur

6. Implement good sleep habits

Consistent sleep is one of the essential factors of good health but one that is often overlooked. For many, it can be challenging to wind down from the workday. Therefore, you must “train” your body to prepare for sleep by getting into a nighttime routine.

Create a sanctuary for yourself to improve your sleep habits. Enjoy a soothing cup of herbal tea, perform a skincare routine, and snuggle in with a good book rather than scrolling through your phone. Additionally, ensure your bedroom is dark and cool for ideal sleep comfort and turn on soothing sounds if it helps lull you to sleep.

7. Try something new

What have you wanted to try but have always held back? Maybe it’s public speaking or contributing to a blog. Whatever “new” has been on your to-do, make a plan, schedule it on your calendar and go for it. It’s common to hold back from these activities due to fear of the unknown or failure, but trying new things helps create confidence and can be the catalyst you need to push you to the next level.

8. Learn to set boundaries

Boundary setting is crucial to relationships yet can be difficult to master. It doesn’t always involve simply saying no to people’s requests. Instead, it requires protecting your own values when people violate them. Setting boundaries may mean spending less time with certain people, removing yourself from toxic situations, or declining invites to events that don’t improve your life. Explore areas where boundaries will help you grow, and keep in mind growth itself is a work in progress.

Related: How to Set Boundaries to Build Thriving Relationships

9. Spend quality time alone

Learning how to enjoy time spent alone is a valuable gift. We are inundated by a false sense of connection through the internet, which often makes us feel lonelier than ever. Then, we overschedule our calendars to make up for human connections, only to feel drained afterward. Slow it down and plan a few solo dates a month to see how it feels to be truly present with yourself.

For those who aren’t used to spending quality time alone, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable initially, but these stem from your own perceptions. Take in a matinee, sit in a coffee shop and read, or enjoy a concert or event you’ve wanted to attend. Alone time has been linked to improved stress management and greater life satisfaction, so it’s worth trying to give yourself more time.

Related: Turns Out, Those Who Like Being Alone Can Be More Creative

10. Get active

Getting active can take on several directions. It can be physical, emotional or spiritual. The point is to engage with people and pursuits that feed your soul. Whether volunteering within your community, setting yourself an exercise goal, or learning more about personal development, there are endless ways to get active and invest in yourself this year.

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Are You a Winner? How to Truly Define Winning in Your Business

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Businesses gauge their performance typically with dozens of goals and metrics. But you can’t do everything at once. The challenge is to get people focused on the one thing that’s most important right now. If it moved in the right direction, it would eliminate a weakness (or capitalize on an opportunity) and improve financial outcomes. You improve that, and you win.

However, not every company clearly defines winning. A catalog of goals can pull the organization in multiple directions and stretch finite resources. Numerous goals can inherently be at odds, working against each other and for conflicting purposes. For example, a cost reduction goal might undermine an innovation goal requiring a significant investment.

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Gen Z Is Making Ugg Boots Fashionable Again: Report

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Ugg boots, the furry, sheepskin boots that defined the 2000s are back, apparently, with spiking interest and Gen Z cachet, according to data from shopping website, Lyst.

The site’s annual quarterly report that highlights the “hottest” 20 fashion brands was released on Thursday, and, as Insider noted, Ugg is on it for the first time since the index began in 2017.

“Gen Z shoppers are breathing new life into once dormant brands … with over 1.2 billion mentions on TikTok — Ugg’s influence is undeniable,” the report notes.

The boots were also sold out of stores during the holidays, it added.

Generation Z, or people born between 1997 and 2012, has demonstrated a penchant for bringing back old technology and trends, from flip phones to “vintage” headphones with cords.

But Ugg boots go back much further — the word “ugg” is actually a general term in Australia that means boots made from sheepskin and fleece, according to the BBC.

The company that created the “UGG” boot, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, is based in the U.S. and has tried and failed to trademark the word in Australia (where a court decided it was a generic word and thus could not be trademarked), the outlet added.

The company says the boots began to gain popularity in California in the 1980s. They were first featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2000 (a huge brand-maker back then) and became “cherished commodities” early in the decade, according to Vogue.

The boots later gained prominence again with a fashion movement that prioritized “ugly” clothes, and have since become an unironic Gen Z favorite, per Insider. Kylie Jenner was also spotted wearing them in November.

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