I get why we have employment laws. Allow too much latitude, and people get used and abused by bad people. Schemes. Ponzi games. Direct-level marketing.
One place this gets interesting is the concept of internships. One of the HR pros on my team at DAXKO recently put together a city workshop on how to set up an internship. In talking to her, I realized I didn't know a lot about how internships have to be structured, so I asked her some questions. One of the things that came up? In order for an internship to be unpaid, the work completed has to provide no value to the organization.
What? I had to pause when she told me that in order to get my head around it.
The humanity. Talk about the law of unintended consequences. Millions of students need some experience to put on their resume to compete, and people like me ponder the laws, then walk away because we need a nap after pondering that.
Add Mark Cuban to the list, because he just had a similar experience:
"This summer, in response to the changing sports media landscape, I wanted to create a “media pool” for the Mavs. I wanted to assemble a group of unpaid interns that would acquire video, write game reports, track unique stats, do interviews, interact with fans, and then compile all of this incremental media and provide it free to any and every outlet we could think of. If a middle school newspaper or website wanted up to the minute Mavs reports, check. We had em. Social networks ? All the content you need. Of course we would update our Mavs.com, mavswiki.com, friends.mavs.com websites and offer the content to any and every blogger out there.
One silver lining of a “great recession” that we are now in is that there are a lot of incredibly talented people without jobs, or who have lost their jobs. I didn’t care if they were 18 years old or 73 years old. I thought we could assemble a talented group who would enjoy the internships and could also gain valuable experience to add to their resumes. When the economy opened up, one of two things would hopefully occur. We were generating revenue from this effort and we could hire them, or they had just built up their resumes and improved their chances of finding a paying job.
Makes sense right ?
Wrong. Enter the US Government.
This is what our HR person, who his supersmart and really knows his stuff came back with
“The law says that interns have to be paid unless they are perfoming work that is of no value to the organization; ie., helps them in some way but we get no benefit from their work. Thus we would have to create work that is useless to us if we choose not to pay them".
How silly is that? “
You can read the rest of his post for more ranting, but the point was similar to my experience. Someone desperately needs experience in their chosen field to be marketable, and because of past abuses of the labor pool, we make laws that force people who can provide that experience to walk away.
The law of unintended consequences at work. How about having the employer responsible, if asked, to prove that someone gets experience that is worth something, rather than forcing work of no value?
Duh? This is why people pause to readily accept more government in their lives...