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Internship/Temporary Work (I/TW)

May 2023


To review circumstances and considerations of an Internship/Temporary Work (I/TW) as a service for consumers.


Many consumers can benefit from having some experience with work prior to permanent employment. This guidance provides staff considerations when using this service to better serve consumers and establish relationships with employers.

I/TW is defined as time-limited paid work. It is designed to impart in-depth knowledge of day-to-day work requirements in a real job.

In some types of business, temporary work assignments are called internships; in other settings, the term "temporary work" may be used.

There is no expectation that the consumer will be hired permanently at the site, although they may be hired at the employer's discretion.

Providing Internship/Temporary Work as a Service

I/TW can be provided as a service for a consumer when it is necessary and appropriate for the achievement of the employment goal. The I/TW site must be in an integrated setting consistent with the consumer’s interests and employment goal. Wages paid to the individual must be commensurate wages paid to others performing the same or similar work.

The purposes of providing I/TW as a service will vary depending upon the individualized needs of the consumer.

I/TW services should not be provided for the purpose of maintenance (i.e., to meet the consumer's financial needs).

Based on identified consumer needs, appropriate purposes of I/TW may include:

  • Assessment - Provides the consumer, employer, and DVR staff person with an opportunity to evaluate the consumer’s interest, job suitability, job accommodation needs, productivity, and other work traits in a real work environment. Use of I/TW may be provided prior to creation of an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

    Note: If it's necessary to use an I/TW an as assessment to help develop the IPE, code it as an assessment. When I/TW is used as an assessment for other purposes after writing an IPE, include it in the consumer’s IPE and code it as an I/TW. It is important to document the specific purpose and parameters.

  • Career Exploration - Learning about an occupational area or work environment of interest, seeing if a job is the right match.

  • Work Hardening - Improve physical, mental, or emotional capacity to work.

  • Work Adjustment - Learn about basic work behavior and workplace requirements regardless of the specific job goal; this can include the use of assistive technology (AT).

  • Skill Enhancement - Develop skills in a specific occupation or brush up on existing skills.

  • Reference Development - Obtain a current positive employment record to help build resumes and/or references.

Work Permit Requirements

Consumers are required to have a work permit before starting the I/TW if they are under age 16.

Work permits are valid for three years. If there is a break in service/employment, a new work permit must be obtained if the consumer is still under age 16 when they start work again.

The work permit cost is reimbursable and should be added to the I/TW purchase order. If summer employment is at the same work site as the previous summer, a new work permit is needed to be compliant with labor laws.

Work permits should list the Employer of Record (EOR) as the employer, not the work site or DVR.

High Risk Positions

There may be some occupations where an I/TW is not possible due to the level of work-related safety risks. Examples of "high risk" placements involve driving positions, any paid time spent in a vehicle including travel between job sites, construction, manual welding/grinding, and farm jobs, especially those involving use of heavy machinery, power saws, woodchippers, ladder work, or accessing roof tops. The EOR is also unable to support an I/TW involving the use or cleaning of meat/food slicers, distributing medication, one on one personal care that is unsupervised, or giving tattoos. If an I/TW worksite has any of these job duties occurring at a worksite, please indicate on the I/TW Agreement that these restrictions will apply e.g., if the I/TW is in a deli, please indicate that the use of a meat/food slicer will not be permitted, if the job duties include oil change, tire rotation, detailing, etc. please indicate that driving will not be permitted.

If a consumer wishes to complete an I/TW in one of these excluded occupations, all safety concerns must be fully addressed in consultation with the Bureau of Consumer Services Director and a determination will be made if another EOR can be used. If a consumer has this type of employment goal, use of an On-the-Job Training (OJT) is encouraged so the site employer can review and be responsible for any associated safety risks.

Length of Internship/Temporary Work as a Service

Labor standards apply in an I/TW where an employee/employer relationship exists, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Overtime is not allowed as part of an I/TW arrangement. The maximum number of hours a consumer can work per week is 40 hours. Any time worked over 40 hours in one week is considered overtime. If overtime occurs, consult with the local supervisor or Director on how to proceed. In Wisconsin, DVR has contracted with an EOR service to assist in providing wages and coverage of insurance.

For information about the specific roles/responsibilities of DVR service providers, see additional guidance and procedures on the Internship/Temporary Work page.

The duration and the number of I/TW opportunities must be based upon the consumer's individualized needs and the purpose of the service. The duration of I/TWs typically ranges from 5 – 90 days. Ninety days is not a maximum timeframe, but typically, the purpose of the I/TW can be achieved within 90 calendar days. When the I/TW ends, a review can occur with the consumer to determine if an additional I/TW is necessary. If it is necessary, efforts should be made to secure an I/TW in a new position or site. If additional time is necessary beyond 90 days, consult with local management for review and approval and document.

Providing Internship/Temporary Work in Conjunction with Other Services

I/TWs may be used in combination with other employment services as appropriate such as Systematic Instruction, Supported Employment, and/or Job Development. (See DVR Technical Specifications for descriptions of these services.)

As appropriate, continue efforts to secure permanent employment if the consumer is also seeking employment while participating in the I/TW. Participation in an I/TW should not delay other job development efforts.

If the consumer has accommodation needs which can be addressed through the provision of AT devices and/or services, or personal attendant care services, those must be addressed when the I/TW is provided. This is also an opportunity for the consumer and DVR to determine any AT needs for work. While it is important to consider the consumer's needs, the full extent of possible accommodations might be unknown until they have begun the I/TW. Depending on the purpose and length of the I/TW, AT items could be rented, borrowed, or purchased.

Progress Reporting

I/TW services should be included in a consumer’s IPE. Progress measures should be developed with the consumer based upon the purpose or intended outcome of the service and specific job duties. Sample questions to assist in the development of progress measures include:

  • What is the I/TW's purpose or expected outcome?
  • What do consumers hope to gain from the I/TW (i.e., stamina, soft skills)?
  • What skills will they learn?
  • What are the employer’s expectations of them?
  • Who will measure I/TW progress and how?

The staff person and consumer should closely monitor the I/TW to ensure it contributes to the achievement of the IPE goal. Feedback from the site employer may be included to develop further services or build on hard skill sets.

Service Provider Role in Internship/Temporary Work

Prior to contacting the employer, the consumer, DVR staff person, other agency representatives, service providers, guardians/legal decision-makers, and/or family members, as appropriate, should discuss and identify the following:

  • Hours, wages, geographical area, job duties, employment settings, etc.
  • Barriers to participation (i.e., transportation needs/plan)

Service providers contact employers directly on behalf of the consumer and DVR to develop the I/TW. Each site should be developed on an individualized basis for each consumer based on their skills, interests, and the purpose of the I/TW. The duration of the I/TW must be based upon the consumer's individualized needs and the purpose of the service.

The I/TW duration and scope are negotiated with the site employer and, in most cases, should not exceed 90 calendar days. If it's necessary to exceed the 90-day timeframe, approval must be obtained by a WDA Director and documented. When the service provider develops an I/W site, they should discuss it with DVR and the consumer and submit a proposal to them for approval. The service provider will submit all the completed and necessary paperwork to the EOR at least one week prior to the consumer's start date. DVR staff, the consumer/guardian, worksite, and service provider must all agree to the start date. If a consumer or DVR staff person develops the I/TW, a service provider should be utilized to facilitate the EOR paperwork. If the consumer does not want a service provider involved, consult with your supervisor/WDA Director on how to proceed.

Once the I/TW begins, the service provider will maintain regular contact with the consumer, DVR staff person, site employer, and EOR. The service provider will assist both the employer to verify wages and the consumer to resolve issues related to I/TW participation. The service provider will contact DVR at any time for technical assistance or intervention if needed, when requested by the site employer or consumer, or when there are proposed changes to the established work hours and dates on the I/TW agreement. The service provider monitors the consumer's work hours to ensure that neither the consumer nor the site employer exceed the authorized hours. Hours worked over the authorized weekly hours is not allowed.

Payment of Internship/Temporary Work

I/TW must be in a community-based, competitive, and integrated workplace where the consumer is paid at or above minimum wage, but not less than the prevailing and customary wage and level of benefits paid by the site employer. Payment of wages is to be provided via an EOR service and is a separate transaction/service to the consumer.

The EOR provider should be provided the set-up fee for each individual position set up for a consumer.

Special Considerations

I/TW sites should be developed with a particular consumer in mind. It could be acceptable to use the same site more than once if the site meets the consumer's individualized needs. If DVR staff have concerns about routine sites being used and/or sites who rarely hire consumers, discuss it with the service providers and local management.

I/TWs are typically used for existing paid positions with job descriptions. A volunteer position could be used as an I/TW but requires consultation and approval from local management.

There might also be instances with non-profit entities or smaller/newer positions where customized positions could be created without existing job descriptions. DVR staff should consult with their supervisors in these situations.

I/TWs can also be supported at publicly funded organizations such as State, County or Municipal operations. Please also see the State Limited-Term Employment (LTE) guidance for further information about when a State LTE may be more appropriate.

Impact of Internship/Temporary Work on Social Security Benefits

Earned income from I/TW may affect Social Security benefits such as Trial Work Period or Extended Period of Eligibility for SSDI beneficiaries working above the Substantial Gainful Activity level. The potential impact on benefits should be discussed with the consumer during the IPE planning process. For possible impact on a specific case, consumers should be referred to Social Security Administration or for a benefits analysis as appropriate.

Impact of Internship/Temporary Work on Child Support and Other Benefits

Consumers may have wages garnished for child support or have other benefits impacted by I/TW. The impact on these should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.