The legal issues that accompany any out of classroom academic experience should be addressed in advance. A quick summary of some of the most common legal issues can be found below. The FLSA is also a great resource to refer to. Additional questions should be discussed with the Director of Academic Internships or with Finance and Administration.
As a matter of course, it is important to maintain contact with your students throughout their experience to ensure their safety and to promptly address any issues that may arise.
It is the intent of the Academic Internships Office to endorse internship positions in safe environments. Students should be informed of any risks they may be taking by participating in their internship.
Students in paid positions are covered by Worker’s Compensation in the event of an accident. Many employers also list students in volunteer positions on their Worker’s Compensation roles.
The university has drawn up a Statement of Understanding to protect the university from liability. This document should be in place before a student begins his or her internship experience.
Students in paid positions should be aware of the legal requirement of a paid internship.
Employers are not required to pay unemployment compensation for internship students. Even in a full-time, paid position, the employer is not obligated for unemployment compensation and students may not claim unemployment benefits upon the closure of their experience.
Employers are required to withhold the usual rates for income tax and send a statement of earnings to the student for income tax purposes. Students should realize that this income may impact their financial aid eligibility for the following year and must be declared on the FAFSA form.
Social Security Withholding
For paid internship positions, employers are required to withhold the usual rates for Social Security. This withholding must be cited on the student’s annual statement of earnings for income tax purposes. Students holding an F-1 visa are not required to pay Social Security taxes. Regular hiring procedures should reveal a student’s eligibility for not withholding Social Security taxes, however advising students to confirm this with their employer would be wise.
Harassment and Discrimination
Students’ experiences should be free of harassment and discrimination. Any such abuses should be brought to the attention of the university at once and appropriate steps taken to ameliorate the issues.
The Buckley Amendments (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974)
This Act provides academic protection to students’ Academic Internship records. Evaluations and the students’ Learning Agreements are considered confidential documents.