“I meet the 6 criteria. Now what?”

Farmer Ralph is delighted! He’s already working with a college and is certain he can arrange academic credit for his interns. His retirement provides the money he needs to make a living. His mission is to help young aspiring farmers and he’s willing to dedicate his time and energy toward training his interns so they can start their own farms. He doesn’t care whether his farmers’ market or restaurant sales are low. He simply wants to provide his interns with diverse experiences in a variety of market channels. He feels strongly that he meets the DOL’s six criteria. Either way, he was thinking about starting a non-profit that is exclusively dedicated to education. Good news! Farmers like Ralph who most likely meet all six of the DOL’s criteria have legally sound non-employee “interns.” Note too that farmers who are willing to take the risk and simply meet the Black Swan court’s lenient requirements may have legally sound “interns”—it’s uncertain, hence the risk.

Either way, while it may not be necessary for these farmers to follow employment laws for their interns, these farmers must take special steps to keep de- tailed records of the internship arrangement. Primarily, this will help them run a more efficient and effective internship program. In addition, the paperwork leaves a trail of proof of the intern program’s legitimacy should an enforcement action ever happen. The following provides some examples of documents and records that should be maintained.

Keep records of hours worked, tasks performed, and training curriculum utilized for the internship program

One way to do this is to have the intern keep a log book that the farm then retains or copies at the end of the season. This log book could also provide a way to monitor the intern’s progress throughout the program. Either way, these records should be accurate and kept on file for at least 3 years.

File reports and paperwork with affiliated schools or institutions that are providing course credit 

Verification of an academic connection will help support the farm’s case that the internship emphasized the structured, classroom style education required under Both the DOL’s and the Black Swan court’s approaches. The intern might appreciate this attention as it may help the intern get the academic credit they need.

Have the intern sign an agreement acknowledging they’re a non-employee intern

Getting the details of the arrangement in writing, including the fact the position is not employment, ensures that the farmer and the intern are on the same page and have shared expectations. Having a shared understanding helps foster good relations throughout the internship, which is undoubtedly a good thing. In addition, having the intern acknowledge the arrangement in writing is required under both the DOL’s and the court’s approaches.

Get insurance coverage for worker injuries

Most states provide an exemption to workers’ compensation coverage for non- employee interns. Nevertheless, even if it’s not legally required, it’s highly recommended that the farm carry insurance to cover worker injuries. Farming is dangerous and accidents happen. With no insurance, the farmer is subject to huge legal liability and financial risk should an intern get hurt. One option is for the farmer to simply carry workers’ compensation for interns. Another option could be to look into a commercial general liability plan that would cover the intern.