With summer rapidly approaching and COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders still in effect, many companies face an important and difficult decision of canceling this year’s summer programs, delaying start dates or conducting programs virtually. This ultimately will be a business decision with no one-size-fits-all answer.
A good first step is to assess whether the influx of new summer workers will help or hinder current operations. Are temporary summer interns a boost to productivity or a drag on experienced employees who may be called upon to train and mentor them? Will the employer expect to offer employment to these summer recruits following the internship?
In addition, given the seismic nature of COVID-19 that has indiscriminately shaken businesses in most industries, can an employer’s business afford to bring on temporary summer workers and, if so, does the business have the literal and figurative bandwidth to support these workers, especially if they will be teleworking for at least part of the summer?
Below are five compliance and management issues employers should consider for their upcoming summer programs.
Typically employers have a pre-employment screening process in place for summer interns/analysts/associates, which may include, among other things, screening for illegal drugs and controlled substances; investigating and verifying criminal history; and verifying education and prior employment history. Many steps in the screening process take place in person. However, even where new hires may be asked to commence employment remotely, including an incoming summer class, compliance is still possible.
Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has relaxed many of the regulatory requirements for onboarding new hires. On March 20, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that for the next 60 days or for the duration of the National Emergency (whichever is sooner), employers with staff teleworking due to COVID-19 can obtain and inspect new employees’ identity and employment authorization documents remotely rather in the employee’s physical presence, as long as they provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and teleworking policy for each employee.