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Hiring paid IT interns - contract? how to pay?

  • 03-12-2022 10:22pm
    Registered Users Posts: 197 ✭✭

    Hi, I started a sole trader tech consulting business and have hired a programming intern. I am also looking to hire some marketing interns. I want to make all the internships paid to align incentives and set the expectation of quality outcomes. From my online research,

    a) I don't need to necessarily pay

    b) I don't need to have a job contract.

    However, I am not able to figure out

    1) how to do the actual payment? If I do bank transfers, how would they show up in my accounts? currently, all my other expenses, like freelancers or software, show up as expenses and I track them in an expenses app.

    2) do i need to create a contract for payment?

    3) Can I let the students create invoices and send across, and I pay those?

    4) A lot of talent are international students who are on student visas. Does that create additional complications?

    These seem like already-solved problems within this community, so I wanted to see what has worked for you and/or what kind of expert do you recommend I reach out to?


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,655 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    In your eyes, what is the difference between an intern, and an employee?

  • Registered Users Posts: 197 ✭✭brio09

    I am looking at students pursuing MS / MBA etc., so they already have some skills. When working (part-time) with me, they are learning but also delivering value. Since they are full-time students, so they cannot be employees, but they can be interns. Another difference is that employees are expected to have a long-term growth plan within the company, have notice periods, an expectation of PIPs, and not easy to terminate their "employment". whereas students may get busy with studies or exams or job interviews and stop having time to work or stop delivering, so I/they would want to terminate without long notice periods.

    I was reading online that intern = it is mainly shadowing and learning. whereas employee = real output. that doesn't help me figure out how to consider folks I'm hiring.

  • Registered Users Posts: 652 ✭✭✭Mick Tator

    You need to be very clear on the ‘rules of engagement’ or you could be badly bitten. You need to provide a contract showing that it is an internship of fixed and limited duration and that there is no promise of employment at its termination. You need to show that they will be doing some work on their own under your direction and will be mentored during the internship. You also need to consider how you will pay them – you do not want to find yourself liable for any tax, SW charges they should have but did not pay.

    I know of one case where an apprentice was taken on as a favour to a family friend and provided with accommodation in lieu of a wage. (Office had a self-contained flat.) It didn’t work out as the apprentice didn’t work (or want to), claimed exploitation, wanted minimum wage rate for the hours worked, wouldn’t leave the flat, complained to the RTB, etc., etc. Although he won in the end, the duress and hardship caused to the guy who did the favour was enormous

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,635 ✭✭✭dotsman

    Are you looking for IT interns (thread title) or Marketing interns (as per your post)? I didn't realise there were a lot of marketing grads here on student visas. What do you know of software development and what experience do you have? What do you know of marketing and what experience do you have? How will you be able to guide them and train them? A single intern makes sense joining an established, experienced team where they can learn and grow into something useful. A team of interns just screams of being a huge disaster/liability to me!

    Ultimately, I think you need to do a lot more research as your findings a) and b) are pretty inaccurate and I don't think you are going to like the answers to questions 1-4!

    So much to point out, but here is a few things:

    What is the difference between an intern an a regular employee? Basically, in Ireland, if they are doing tasks that are of value to the company, then they are an employee. As per your posts, they are the bulk/entirety of your workforce and you also state that you are expecting them to be "delivering value". So they are definitely employees. Not even close to any concept of an internship.

    You will need to educate yourself on a lot of labour laws in this country.

    Similarly, you will need to understand payroll/tax.

    Similarly, you can pretty much forget non-EEA students.

    Finally, if you are serious about setting up a consulting business, reputation will be everything. Even if you can "talk the talk" and get your foot in the door, if the quality of the delivery is "student" level, you are not going to stay in business for long.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,655 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    People can be part time temporary employees at the same time as they are full time students.

    If they are doing work that is of value, they should be employees, not interns.

    You need to talk to an HR specialist about your options. Your accountant cab advice you about payroll options and tax liabilities.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 652 ✭✭✭Mick Tator

    The OP is a sole trader so very open to downside risk. Professional advice is necessary. Limited liability should be considered as s/he seems at the cusp of the next stage/growth spurt.

    I’m a huge believer in well-managed internships. If the OP is looking for cheap labour s/he deserves to be pilloried bit I think that is not the case. Stay within the law on employment and visas, pay them correctly and spend time on them. Interns are not slaves, and a huge part of the deal is intense mentoring. Interns can and do bring value; also, specific work by graduate interns often forms part of their theses, looks great on a CV and they welcome that experience.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,428 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    The problem with the interns having no ties to the business, is they can walk at any time with the project in a heap.

  • Registered Users Posts: 197 ✭✭brio09

    thank you everyone, for the input. my (earlier) approach looks scary and tricky on many fronts. Based on your input, I'll continue the programming internship that I've already hired for, as I know the student from earlier. but I'll wait to hire marketing interns with whom I don't have a social connection. I'll first iron out other aspects to reduce the downside.

    I am paying every freelancer and intern I work with. Paying above min wage for the interns.

    Summary: It seems I should talk to an HR consultant. That might probably then lead to an immigration consultant for non-EEA hires.

    @dotsman I was considering marketing as a subset of IT for an employment/labor perspective since they work through their laptop only. I have engineering and marketing experience, so will mentor both. I understand your point about other issues coming up.

    @Mick Taylor will look up a internship contract. I was writing a "working agreement" doc that stated that internship doesn't mean full time. I am also discussing with the interns as to how can I and their work help them with their job search. but I'll also look into contracts.

    @Mrs OBumble I didn't realize that they could be PT employees + FT students. that will make it hard for non-EEA probably.

    @Flinty997 yes agreed! one reason I thought of limiting to a) students b) grad students c) during their school year is so that it can fit into their routine. and i am chatting with them about their job search timeline so that i can align on how to ramp-down their internship to enable their job search. and also so that I'm prepared for them walking out. but ya I've heard those stories of interns walking away so could be tricky.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,381 ✭✭✭✭kippy

    The logic you apply to put marketing as a subset of IT is worrying.

    Best of luck you you OP. I would suggest getting proper recruitment/HR advice. There are companies that povide this

  • Registered Users Posts: 435 ✭✭GoogleBot

    For people from abroad use b2b model.

    For salary use payroll software e.g.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 197 ✭✭brio09

    thanks! I was not aware of simplepay - looks very nice. for non-EEA nationals who are students, you are suggesting using B2B model - i understand that to be the freelancer model where they invoice me and i bank transfer to them. am i understanding your recommendation right?

    @kippy thanks for your note, I have reached out to a few immigration + employment law firms. Will see how it goes.