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TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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I work for a small, new non-profit organization based in Washington,

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I work for a small, new non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. We are looking to hire some interns this summer and have a few questions surrounding the legality of it.

We want to hire some unpaid interns to help create content for our website by writing news articles. The time commitment in minimal (maybe 2-3 hours per week) and they would work remotely, wherever/whenever it's most convenient to them. The benefit to the interns is experience working with an editor to create news content and also building up a portfolio of published news articles. My first question is whether we can legally call them interns (since they are producing work that we benefit from)? Would we be better off calling them unpaid contributors?

My second question about them is whether or not we need to draw up a contract for the work. It would be a very casual relationship: unpaid with flexible start and end dates.

And finally, we're looking for one paid intern to work for us this summer creating video content. Can we call this person an intern (again, we'll be benefiting from their work)? Or would it be better to write a contract for an 'independent contractor'?

Please let me know if you need me to give you any more information. Thanks in advance!

Thank you for your question. I've served as general counsel for a non-profit.

Whether you title the unpaid workers as an intern or an unpaid contributor has no legal impact and is not governed by any applicable law. The fact that an intern does work which benefits the company does not change the fact that they are an intern, nor does it require that you call them something else.

In regard to whether you need a contract, the best practice would be to do this. You would want to first of all make sure that it is clear that any and all articles they draft or videos they create are works that are donated to the charity and become the copyright and property of the charity.

In regard to the intern you want to pay. You want to make sure that the work done for the video is done under a written independent contractor agreement which designates that the video produced is a "work for hire" and also certifies that the intern is not an employee of the charity.

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Best Regards,
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