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Employment contracts benefit workers and business owners

When the time comes to expand a business, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur may wish to hire employees to help carry the load. However, this may fill a business owner with trepidation because of the many potential complications that come with hiring, compensating and perhaps firing employees. Business owners often find that some of those complications can be avoided with a carefully drafted employment contract.

The advantages of such a contract include addressing common contingencies that arise in business situations. Contracts can describe what an employer expects of his or her workers, the benefits the employee may receive and how the relationship between boss and worker may end. While contracts are not always necessary, many business owners find that they are able to retain employees longer when they have signed such an agreement.

Contracts can also include important protections for the business owner. For example, a contract may include non-compete clauses, preventing former employees from seeking work with a company rival. Managers may also benefit from including requirements for employers to give reasonable notice before leaving the job. A common drawback of employment contracts is that they eliminate the "at-will" option, which allows an employer to fire a worker who isn't producing. A contract may protect the worker from such dismissal.

Well-drafted employment contracts can save business owners many headaches. Finding the balance between protecting one's business and attracting a talented employee requires skill and knowledge of employment law. Many business owners in Pennsylvania find those qualities in an attorney who can help them create a contract appropriate for their circumstances.

Source: entrepreneur.com, "Employment Contract", Accessed on Aug. 12, 2017

Questions to be answered regarding unpaid internships

During the summer, it is fairly common for companies to offer internships to high school and college students. They basically serve competing interests very nicely. Students get valuable experience with a company that improves their job prospects after they graduate, and employers get an opportunity to audition prospective employees.

While some internships come with a fair wage, others are unpaid. Given state and federal employment laws, are unpaid internships legal?

The quick answer is: it depends on the circumstances. Generally speaking, unpaid internships may violate state and federal wage and hour laws if they do not satisfy certain criteria.  Essentially, these rules are in place so that employers do circumvent federal minimum wage laws by simply naming seasonal temporary employees "interns." This post will highlight a few of the factors the U.S. Department of Labor will use to determine if an unpaid internship properly follows federal law. 

Whether the experience supplements classroom - An unpaid internship must utilize or expand upon training or education previously provided in a classroom environment. This may mean that a particular class must have been completed as a prerequisite to the internship.

The intern must benefit from the job -  In the same vein, the intern usually receives some type of academic credit that will be used to satisfy graduation requirements.  

Regular employees can still work - Permanent employees must not be displaced by unpaid interns, and any interns working on a temporary basis must be supervised by an existing, permanent employee.

If you are putting together a new internship program or have accepted students into one and have questions about proper compensation, an experienced employment law attorney can advise you.

The preceding is not legal advice.

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