Should HR Internships Be Paid?

The best HR internships provide both students and companies with a number of benefits, including skill development, fresh ideas and improved public outreach.

The placements give job-seekers the opportunity to develop skills and experience in their industry of choice by providing them with training. This helps them learn what the industry is actually like and allows them to network with useful contacts.

While there are many perks to hiring recruits, it’s important to consider whether or not you will be paying them, as there are a range of potential legal, moral and ethical drawbacks associated with not doing so.

There are many reasons why you might be wary about making your HR internships paid experiences. These include having a strict budget and the belief that work experience and training are a privilege.

But there is a case for paying your recruits – it gives people facing socioeconomic disadvantage the opportunity to get involved, and you could face legal issues for not paying up (especially if recruits are performing work that economically benefits your company). This article will explore the main issues to consider before deciding to make your HR internships paid or unpaid.


Recruit satisfaction

Recruits who are paid tend to be both happier and perform better at their placement. This is because they feel they are being rewarded for their efforts and are appreciated by the company. They are generally more enthusiastic about coming into the office and doing their best work. They will also be able to work more hours with you as it reduces the need for them to do extra work outside of the placement in order to make a living. There is also a higher chance that they will hold a strong positive regard for your company and as a result will talk about you with their social circle, thereby boosting brand awareness!


Social mobility

Unpaid HR internships can negatively affect social mobility by excluding those from low socioeconomic backgrounds who cannot afford to work for free. Unpaid placements typically attract well-off people from high socioeconomic backgrounds whose parents are able to financially support them throughout the duration of the placement. Paying your recruits can help level out the playing field and give the less well-off a chance to succeed in their career.



The laws around paying recruits are a bit vague and regulations have not yet been formalised. However, companies can still be charged with breaking the law for not paying their recruits. This generally occurs when a recruit is performing work that delivers an economic benefit to the business but isn’t getting financially reimbursed for doing so. HR internships should aim to provide training for recruits, not get them to do their dirty work for free.

Several companies have been charged with underpaying or not paying their recruits when they should have, and as a result have had to pay thousands of dollars’ worth of fines. Experts warn that placements may be acting as a dishonest form of unpaid employment which do not provide training as they are supposed to. This could also make unemployment rates rise as paid employees are displaced and replaced with free labour.


Quality of your training program

If you decide to make your HR internships unpaid experiences, it’s crucial that you provide an excellent training program to your recruits. The placement should help recruits develop a range of specific skills, provide high-quality mentoring opportunities and ensure that they are better prepared to work in the industry once they’ve completed the placement.



When done right, HR internships can be beneficial to both students and businesses.