Back to school time is here!

June 12th, 2018 by hrsimple

Every August millions of students return to school from summer vacation. While it may not seem that relevant to the 9 to 5 workforce, the school year can impact employers in several ways, from internships to continuing education benefits. Here are a few things to look out for as school gets back in session.

Ending internships

The internship should be for a set amount of time, established prior to the start of the internship.  Further, unpaid internships should not be used by the employer as a trial period for individuals seeking employment at the conclusion of the internship.  If an intern is placed with the employer for a trial period with the expectation that he or she will then be hired on a permanent basis, the court will consider that individual to be an employee under the FLSA.

Student learners

Individuals who qualify as student learners are not prohibited from working in certain occupations which are otherwise restricted to them by virtue of their age. To qualify, the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • 16 to 18 years of age
  • enrolled in a youth vocation training program under a recognized state or local educational authority
  • employed under a written agreement which contains the name of the student learner, and is signed by the employer, school coordinator, principal and parent or legal guardian. The agreement must provide that: 
    • the work in the occupation declared particularly hazardous will be incidental to the training
    • the work will be intermittent and for short periods of time and under the direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person
    • that safety instruction will be given by the school and correlated by the employer with on-the-job training
    • a schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job will be prepared.

Only certain occupations, otherwise prohibited for individuals under age 18, are permitted under this exception for student learners.

Continuing education benefits

Some employers provide educational assistance to employees for certain education expenses incurred by its employees on a tax-advantaged basis. 

Qualifying expenses include:

  • tuition
  • fees
  • supplies
  • books
  • equipment. 

Qualifying expenses generally do not include:

  • education related to hobbies
  • games
  • sports. 

Undergraduate and graduate degree courses may qualify.

Employers are not obligated to reimburse employees for continuing education programs.  Many employers choose to do so, however, because they believe such programs benefit the company by encouraging employees to become better educated in their respective fields of specialization and thereby improving company productivity.

If an employer elects to have a tuition reimbursement program, its terms should be in writing and contain the requirements for receiving reimbursement.  To provide the employee funds for educational purposes in advance, the employer may wish to utilize a loan document and wage assignment to authorize payroll deduction in the event the employee terminates employment prior to completing the course or otherwise fails to complete or pass the course.  It also should be noted that employees generally must be compensated for time spent attending mandatory on‑the‑job training programs or seminars.


As a full‑time employee of ABC Company, you may qualify for tuition reimbursement.  The Company will reimburse you fully for tuition, fees, and books for courses taken that are directly related to improvement of relevant job skills with the Company.  This policy also covers all courses taken to fulfill the requirements of a degree program approved by your manager.  All reimbursements are subject to the approval of your supervisor or manager and the Human Resources Manager.


All tuition reimbursements must be requested in writing and approved prior to beginning the course.  Reimbursement may be subject to taxes.  To qualify for reimbursement, you must receive a passing grade and you must be an employee in good standing at the time of reimbursement.  Courses must be taken at times other than during scheduled working hours.  Proof of passing grade or certificate of satisfactory course completion and receipts for tuition, fees, and books must be turned in to the Human Resources Department in order to receive your reimbursement.

Parental leave

During the last decade, there has been an increased interest in promoting flexibility for employees with caregiver responsibilities, including parents of school-aged children.  Federal lawmakers have proposed amending the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow employees to take unpaid leave to participate in their children's school-related and educational activities.  These activities might include parent-teacher conferences, class parties, volunteer activities, assemblies, sporting events, and other extracurricular activities.  Currently, there is no obligation under either federal law to offer employees parental leave. If the employer elects to offer paid or unpaid parental leave, a policy should be spelled out in clear and detailed terms so that employees understand the nature and limitations of the benefit.

Some employers choose not to offer parental leave because it is a benefit that is not available to all employees and because parental leave can be difficult to define and limit.  Alternatively, if an employer does not want to offer separate parental leave, the employer’s policies concerning personal days or paid time off (PTO) (discussed above) could provide that such leave can be used at the employee’s discretion for activities such as parent-teacher conferences or other school events.


ABC Company recognizes that many of its employees must balance work requirements with parental responsibilities.  For this reason, the Company provides unpaid parental leave to full‑time employees who are the parent, guardian, or foster parent of a child (or children) who is attending school or licensed daycare and is under age 18.  Parental leave may be used only for the employee’s attendance of conferences or classroom activities that cannot be scheduled during the employee’s non-work hours.

Eligible employees may take up to 10 hours of unpaid parental leave per child during any calendar year.  An employee may substitute accrued paid vacation leave or other appropriate paid leave for unpaid parental leave.  Parental leave must be requested at least one week in advance and approved by Human Resources and the employee’s supervisor.  Employees using unpaid parental leave may be required to provide written documentation of their attendance of a conference or classroom activity.



HR Webinars
Making Your HR To-Do List & Checking it Twice for the New Year
December 13th, 2018 at 7:30am CST by Greg Grisham, David Jones, Courtney Leyes, Gabriel McGaha, Robert Ratton III, Martin Thompson, Jeff Weintraub

Terminations Got You Down? 5 Tips to Tighten Your Termination Tactics
December 17th, 2018 at 12:00pm CST by Brian T. Benkstein at Fredrikson & Byron

Unconscious bias - whether you realize it or not
December 18th, 2018 at 11:00am CST by Margaret A. Matejkovic, Esq. at Kastner Westman & Wilkins, LLC

HR Articles
MeToo, avoiding women, and the modified Mike Pence Rule
Carnac the Magnificent says – Politicussin
Non-competes for non-skilled – non-productive, non-legal, non-enforceable?
Discrimination CHARGE! – Step 3 Cause or no cause, because you gotta do something
Discrimination CHARGE! – Step 2 Go Kim Possible for the investigation phase
Discrimination CHARGE! – Step 1 Don't panic, ask questions
Depression – what can an employer do?
Employers beware - what you say can and will be used against you
Holiday stew – ingredients for a happy and non-litigious holiday
MO - The weed du jour - marijuana médicale
Biometrics in the workplace - not a measure of bios accumulated by an employee
Thanks-giving isn't just about turkeys - include the good employees too
The best "stay" to help you retain employees
Overtime, daylight savings time and circadian rhythyms
Controlling the political speech of buttons*
Cursing, surfing, weapons, gadgets – illegal, inappropriate or OK?
How to Ghostbuster a new hire or applicant
Election leave – employer's civic duty, migraine, or just wishful thinking (election, leave!)
Costumes, booze and the Great Pumpkin – beware the office Halloween party
Disability – Dr. or employee approved?
401(k) plan + payroll provider = 401k good things
Disability/pregnancy practices – what not to practice
Bad hire! Bad, bad hire!
TN – A drug-free workplace program is good
Open enrollment – personalizing perks pays off
Unpaid intern – depends on who benefits
The #1 office perk is . . . ?
FMLA leave before being eligible for FMLA leave
IL – Required expense reimbursement for your employees, not Bill Self
Help hiring holiday help here
Are the new DOL opinion letters like noses?
Public disclosure of confidential information is easier than you think
Bad mix – accommodation request and firing
If religious accommodation and a flu shot both equal angst, is that the transitive or substitution property?
Workplace shootings – 20 can-dos to prevent them
No call/no show shows. No what about it.
List 10 Up: Top tips for starting a workplace incident interview
Mr. Freeze unveils National Security Freeze tagline: "They can't steal your identity if it's frozen"
If it's called a dress code, can I wear pants?
I've changed my name – to Optimus Prime
TN: Conceal and carry means post to prohibit or permit
I'll take "ADA in 5s?" please Alex
Swearing at work – 7 rules
Is that red light flashing?
Four-legged office mates and the pawternity policies they benefit
Notice: notices and forms for FMLA that were already expired now updated virtually unchanged
Don't feel ripped off when you get ripped off – get even
School-related parental leave does not mean you forge a note from your kid
NY: Draft model sexual harassment policy/training released
Discipline - Demote - Depart or Communicate - Counsel - Channel
ICE audits II – FAQs to make you wiser
Round up stew: sick leave, harassment, non-compete, etc.
Identifying trade secrets does not mean figuring out how to barter better
ICE audits have nothing to do with freezer police
Being at work full time is not an essential function of a job?
List 10 up: Positive employee relations training: reap the benefits of engagement
Employment agreements – what to do before you do
Background checks of the future are continuous
Treating service animal requests (always treat the animal)
Prepare for saying "No" – you need to decide how to refuse service
List 10 up: What's the deal with employee handbook rules?
I cannot tell a lie . . . you're fired for cutting down the cherry tree
Milk Stork delivers for working mom's and their baby
Job tasks and essential functions under the ADA
Who are you? Why are you here? Personality testing?
No, you can't sleep on the job
Technology driving the hiring process
Should you give your employees a little Slack – or do they have enough already?
"We need to talk" isn't any easier to say than to hear
Bet employers must make: call and raise your minimum wage
Zero tolerance for "zero tolerance" policies
Ralph Waldo Emerson as a productivity consultant
Is the employee "disabled" under the ADA?
The six step DOL audit polka
PTO on the house!
New rules for work rules
Dr. Strangelabor or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Millennial
Did Bartleby the scrivener write his own job description?
"Treating" disgruntled or bad behaving employees
Hiring under the age of 18
DO NOT LICK THE BRAIN! and other obvious stuff
Helping your employees save for emergencies
Right to bare arms in the workplace
#MeToo quiz
Under standing desks
How to approach an employee showing signs of cognitive decline
Dress codes should not be encoded
Foul language *
Rorschach, Horshack and Abednego
Don't ask a woman the gender of her child, especially. . .
Guidelines for a valid no-solicitation/no-distribution policy
All aboard the Love Train for long-term onboarding!
Gender and workplace bathrooms
No FMLA for pet's death
Personal hygiene in the workplace
Yes Virginia, there is a St. Patrick's Day in Ireland
Master the modern method for managing March Madness
Drug testing in The Office
Background checks
"Thank you" and "I'm sorry" – meaningful, simple and impactful
Michael Corleone HR tip for the day
S'not flu or it is, doesn't matter
Be prepared for ICE raids
Looking for employees: an untapped source of talent
Calling Dr. Love(less)
Non-exempt employees – what counts as wages?
HR is not a happy accident
Do new hires have to be a culture club fit?
Remote workers and telecommuting
When former employees ask for references
Model written lock out/tag out program
Wrong table cat
They might be giants . . . transforming healthcare?
Conducting internal I-9 audits
The Nebraska Chamber has issued a W-2 challenge to state taxpayers
The impact of super bowl(ing)
12 steps to handling violence in the workplace
Workplace retaliation: don't give in to the Dark Side
Would you really want to work with a bunch of yous?
What is the ADA?
Monty Python should not write your job descriptions
FMLA definitions
Unemployed or wear a bra – are those the only choices?
What "government shutdown" means for employers
An intern by any other name
FMLA - "leave" as in "leave the employee alone"
 “M,” “F,” Or “X”? Nonbinary Gender Designations in the Workplace
Sexual harassment – can't find it – what now?
Probationary periods
Employee contracts
How to treat fringe benefits for employees
Attendance policies
Different repeal
Temporary and leased employees
Birthdays in the workplace
Needy employees
Holiday parties - acknowledge, avoid, assume (nothing)
Dress codes: who, what, wear
Punch clock
Nepotism: favoring relatives and friends in the workplace
Year-end performance reviews
Hiring interviews
The Form I-9 has changed… Again!
Service dogs at work
Bring your own gun
Social media
Year-end or holiday incentives
Arizona sick day policy
Paternity leave
HRsimple spotlight - Fiona Ong
Permissible post-accident drug testing
Paid family leave: a growing trend
Politics in the workplace: how to remain legally compliant during election season
Termination Series: Communicating the reason for discharge
It’s only a matter of overtime
Interview with attorneys at Kastner Westman & Wilkins
Valentine's Day heartaches around the office
Safety and health tips
Wearable technology
Favorite HR sites
Back to school time is here!
Vacation policies and time off
Interview with author J. Hagood Tighe
Non-compete agreements
Workplace romance
Bullying in the workplace
Employment references
Telecommuting or remote (control) workers
Social media and employment
Performance evaluations
Interview with attorneys at Wilson Worley PC
Interview with attorneys at Knudsen Law Firm
Interview with Kathy Speaker MacNett
Firing, a job to do right the first time
Job advertisement do’s and don’ts
Employee handbooks – getting a handle on your policies
Technology in the workplace
Interview questions: do's and don'ts
Employee personnel files