Silas Walker, KSL, File

Bill creates option for safety plans for student interns

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - Feb. 24, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Companies that wish to offer internships to high school students will have the option of conducting background checks on employees or participating in “internship safety agreements” under SB147.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, said SB147 builds on legislation passed last year, which required the background checks.

“It proved to be a bit of a burden for some of these companies and therefore some of these internship programs were actually canceled and it resulted in fewer internships,” Henderson said.

SB147 gives employers the option of either conducting background checks or entering an internship safety agreement with the student’s school. The company, business or agency that offers the internship must do one or the other.

2020 Utah Legislative Session

The safety agreements are intended to ensure that an adult company officer or employee is not intentionally alone with an intern at any time during the intern’s activities.

It calls on employers to provide “a safe, educational, courteous and welcoming professional environment that is free of harassment or discriminatory conduct that may result in a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive learning environment,” according to the bill’s language.

It also says employers will comply with all state and federal laws relating to workplace and student safety, privacy and welfare.

Granite School District communication director Ben Horsley spoke in support of the bill.

“Our student safety should always be our paramount and primary concern. So what this bill does, it balances the regulatory needs of the background check to the needs of businesses to provide internships and opportunities for students,” Horsley said.

The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the Senate for its consideration.

Marjorie Cortez

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