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So the Labor Department is cool with unpaid internships again

(BUSINESS NEWS) Regulations on unpaid internships continue to wax and wane, and businesses that opt to use unpaid labor should be aware of new regulations.

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designer intern internships

Unpaid internships are a deacreasingly common institution in the United States, with help from former regulatory attempts to make them more difficult to create.

That regulatory oversight might become more relaxed after the Department of Labor (DOL) issued new rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that governs the role of unpaid internships in the modern American workforce.

Last week, the United States’ labor governing body decided to revise its guidelines on unpaid internships using the concept of a “primary beneficiary test.”

The core principle behind the seven statements that comprise the primary beneficiary test revolves around the idea that the reason you are hiring unpaid interns is for work that provides the intern with the primary benefit (educational opportunities, hands on learning, and networking), not because the company isn’t paying someone else to perform the same activities.

So with these guidelines, there’d be no more call for jokes about interns fetching coffee or making copies. Sounds like a win for the intern, right?

Not exactly.

The guidelines stress, however, that there is no magic quota of yes or no answers that yields the unpaid intern in question has job duties that would require payment. That even includes answering “no” to the statement that reads: “the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation.”

Of course, if a company were in violation of these guidelines, especially the one regarding compensation, it would be easier for adjudication to be brought against the company into a court of law. These rules start as the groundwork for any legal action interns can bring against an organization.

The first set of six guidelines were developed in 2010. By 2011, a lawsuit brought by unpaid interns against Fox Searchlight while working Darren Aronofsky feature, Black Swan, claiming the interns were performing job duties in need of compensation (read: they weren’t already paying employees to do the same roles, rather using interns as free labor).

The ruling in 2013 was in favor of the interns, but a different federal court reversed that decision in 2015. It is interesting to note that the revised guidelines published by the DOL only a week ago were derived from the Court’s 2015 decision on this case.

The larger trend of lawsuits brought by unpaid interns may cause a company pause if they reverse decisions about payment of employees.

Despite the judicial onslaught, some organizations may still choose to pursue unpaid internships in light of the relaxation of the guidelines by the DOL.

Alexandra Bohannon has a Master of Public Administration degree from University of Oklahoma with a concentration in public policy. She is currently based in Oklahoma City, working as a freelance filmmaker, writer, and podcaster. Alexandra loves playing Dungeons and Dragons and is a diehard Trekkie.

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Business News

Skilled workers can live in any city they wish and still get work [study]

(BUSINESS NEWS) A 2018 study reveals that remote work is on the rise, and the ultra skilled workers can work from any city they wish.

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A 2018 study that surveyed 1,005 hiring decision makers commissioned by Upwork sheds some interesting insights on the attitudes around remote workers and the challenges hiring managers are experiencing finding talent. The remote workforce is the future after all and this study offers both insight into challenges and solutions.

It was noted that talent is becoming harder and harder to find (up to three times more difficult than in past years). Meanwhile, remote work is on the rise, according to 55 percent of managers.

The overarching attitude toward offices becoming temporary anchor points is increasing, indicating that commutes are becoming less common (albeit slightly). Companies are increasingly embracing remote work, and according to 38 percent of those surveyed, it will become the predominant workforce.

A major challenge remains that company policies aren’t caught up to remote work – they are lagging behind or non-existent according to 57 percent of organizations.

Over half of all companies surveyed are using more temporary, contract, or freelance workers and the majority of hiring managers believe agile teams will become the norm in the near future.

Perhaps the juiciest tidbit, the fact that skills are viewed as more important than location suggests that at the end of the day…

remote workforce

If you have the skills, you can live basically anywhere. Remote and freelance work offers a variety of opportunities and means you don’t have to be synchronously local to a team to get work done. This means that you don’t need to be in a big city like New York or Los Angeles to get the big work and have access to opportunity.

Companies are struggling to find talent, and despite a lack of policy support, are opening up to remote work. Adding to this challenge is that more and more Americans are less mobile, due to concerns about cost of living (or other things in our lives), hiring managers are having a harder time finding the right talent to fill their own vacancy.

Skilled workers (those who have the abilities that are in demand and desired by their industry) have the ability to pick and choose where they want to live and it looks like now and the future, companies are coming to meet them. This is good news, and offers more and more opportunities, as well as flexibility for hiring managers.

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Indeed and Glassdoor are now owned by one Japanese company – what’s next?

(TECHNOLOGY) Now that Glassdoor and Indeed are owned by an international brand, how will their main competitors (and search engines) react?

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This year, Glassdoor, one of the most popular job and recruiting sites, has been acquired by Recruit Holdings Co. Ltd. (RCRRF), a Tokyo-based firm in a $1.2 billion cash transaction to become part of Recruit’s growing Human Resources Technology segment.

Recruit Holdings operates Three areas of business: HR Technology, Media & Solutions, and Staffing. In 2012, they acquired CT-based Indeed, which continues to be the number one job site in the world. Glassdoor will continue to operate independently as a part of Recruit Holdings, which holds companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, but it is noteworthy that a Japanese company owns two of the biggest players in the job search game.

The possibilities from this merger are not yet clear, but given that Recruit holds both Indeed and Glassdoor, the opportunity for integration and grouped pricing could eventually be useful for recruiters and HR/Hiring professionals. Although the company has not formally announced that integration is a possibility, considering the stiff competition from LinkedIn Jobs – it would be a great way to gain some competitive advantage.

The acquisition could help Recruit take on Microsoft (who owns LinkedIn) and Google to keep the two from dominating the online job boards, to which are essential for job seekers and talent seekers.

Of course, nothing is set in stone, but the possibilities are there. Recruiters should consider the possibilities for pricing and plan for how they will use the platforms (and how they will integrate Google for Jobs) to best collect the candidates they need.

Job seekers be prepared for more logins and more search sites for jobs and recognize that the possibility of Google no longer indexing Glassdoor (just as Indeed is not indexing on Google jobs).

The conflict between Indeed/Glassdoor, Microsoft, Google, and maybe even Facebook (look at Facebook.com/Jobs) is going to be an interesting battle to watch. JobBoardDoctor described the conflict of Indeed vs. Google as an old-west shoot out at high noon.

I suspect that with all four players in – it’s going to be a cold war in the recruiting world. Sit tight folks. Let’s see whats next!

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Business News

This fake company weeds out crappy clients

(BUSINESS) The former CEO of Highrise used a fake website to weed out toxic clients. How can you keep problematic customers out of your business?

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weeding out toxic clients

Sorting through your client list to weed out potentially toxic customers isn’t a process which garners the same attention as a company removing problematic employees, but it’s every bit as important — and, in many cases, twice as tricky to accomplish. One innovative journalist’s solution to this problem was to set up a fake website to act as a buffer between unwanted clients and his inbox.

If you’re anything like Nathan Kontny, your inbox is probably brimming with unread emails, product pitches, and pleas from people with whom you’ve never met in person or collaborated; unfortunately, many of these “people” are simply automated bots geared toward generating more press for their services.

Nathan’s response to this phenomenon was to create a website called “Trick a Journalist” in order to see which potential clients would sign up for the service.

Hilariously enough, the trap worked exactly as planned. Anyone signing up for Trick a Journalist was blacklisted and prevented from signing up for Nathan’s CRM software, with Nathan’s justification being that the CRM software in question should never be used for something so egregiously predatory as Trick a Journalist.

By creating a product which sets apart unwanted clients from the rest of the pack, Nathan succeeded in both attracting and quarantining present and future threats to the integrity of his business.

While this model may not be practicable at face value, there’s an important lesson here: determining the lengths to which your clients will go to gain the upper hand BEFORE working for them is an important task, as your clients’ actions will reflect upon your product or services either way.

Ruthlessness in business isn’t unheard of, but you should be aware of your customers’ tendencies well in advance of signing off on their behavior.

Of course, one minor issue with Nathan’s model of operation is that, invariably, someone will connect Trick a Journalist to his brand and miss the joke entirely.

There are less risky routes to weeding out potentially problematic clients than blacklisting them via a satirical website — though one might argue such routes are less fun — but the end result is essentially the same: keeping unsavory clients out of your inbox and off of your product list.

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