Non-Traditional Workers


Washington State agencies have many different ways to provide meaningful work experience for individuals. Before bringing on additional staff, whether paid or unpaid, consult with your HR Business Partner to ensure you do not have any restrictions to consider first.


Apprenticeships are a combination of on-the-job training and related supplemental instruction under the supervision of a journey-level professional. Registered apprenticeships must be approved by the Washington State Apprenticeship Training Council. Apprentices learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation, and achieve journey level status. They typically earn a percentage of a journey level wage, but it cannot be less than the state minimum wage. Not all careers offer apprenticeships, refer to LNI’s website to see the careers that offer apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are entered into HRMS.


A contractor is a person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services under a written contract. Unlike employees, contractors do not work regularly for an employer but work as required. Please work with DES Contracts Team if you want to bring on a contractor. Contractors are not entered into HRMS.


Hiring Our Heroes is a 12-week program that provides transitioning service members, spouses, and caregivers of wounded warriors with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce. Participating corporations benefit by gaining access to the best and brightest transitioning service members, spouses, and caregivers of wounded warriors while also developing a more comprehensive understanding of the job market. Hiring Our Heroes are not entered into HRMS.


An internship is work-related learning for individuals who want meaningful hands-on experience. This work should be challenging but not clerical in nature. Ensure that enough staff time is available to provide the level of supervision and mentoring needed to support an internship.
The supervisor of an intern has responsibility for:

  • Jointly developing a work plan with the student;
  • Overseeing student projects;
  • Serving as a mentor to the student;
  • Meeting with the student regularly to go over successes and concerns about work;
  • Introducing the student to the work of the different divisions and the regions;
  • Encouraging the student to take risks appropriate to their level of experience.
  • This may include completing paperwork for internships that provide course credits (progress reports, surveys, etc.)

An intern has responsibility for:

  • Completing assigned tasks and projects;
  • Following the rules/philosophy/policies of the agency;
  • Participating as a member of the work team;
  • Seeking and taking advantage of opportunities to explore other areas of the department’s business;
  • Taking their share of the responsibility for making the internship a success.

Under certain conditions, interns may perform unpaid work. The test for determining whether an intern is paid as an employee depends on who benefits from the work completed. The United States Department of Labor provides guidance under federal law.

Internships should be for a fixed duration that is established prior to the start of the internship. It is also best to keep their weekly hours under 40. Completing a competitive recruitment process is highly recommended for both paid and unpaid internships.

Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships are usually a result of interest on the behalf of students but a lack of funding availability by the agency for a paid internship. Participation in an internship program is limited to students who have identified a degree program and are currently enrolled in that program: typically junior and senior level undergraduate and graduate students.

An unpaid intern may receive compensation during their internship, but this cannot be in the form of a regular wage. Compensation that is not intended to be a wage may be acceptable, this could include a stipend or reimbursement for expenses incurred during the internship. Unpaid internships are used for allowing the unpaid intern to gain experience at your agency and in turn, that intern gains academic credit through their university or college. Unpaid interns should never be used in lieu of regular workers or to supplement an employer’s workforce during specific periods. Unpaid internships are not entered into HRMS.

To establish an unpaid internship through a stipend, your agency will want to create a contract with the individual. You will need to have the stipend employee complete timesheets and pay LNI workers comp fee for hours worked. You will want to connect with DES Payroll to ensure they have the right information to get it set up.

Paid Internships

Paid interns are not gaining academic credits through their college or university and will be benefiting your agency (more than they’re benefiting their own education). There are job classifications for interns that can be established to provide an intern appropriate wages. Participation in an internship program is limited to students who have identified a degree program and are currently enrolled in that program: typically junior and senior level undergraduate and graduate students. Paid internships are entered into HRMS.

Work Ex

Work Ex is an internship program tailored to introduce military spouses and transitioning service members into the civilian workforce by providing exposure to industry requirements while gaining hands-on experience and meeting specific employer needs. Through a Work Ex career connected learning opportunity, agencies get to know the transitioning service member or military spouse within your organizations work environment. Agencies are under no obligation to offer a job to the candidate; rather this is a work experience which will enhance the ability of the candidate gaining full-time employment. The program does require that at a minimum, an informational interview be offered to the candidate at the completion of the Work Ex. For more information, reach out to the Work Ex Program Manager. Work EX interns are not entered into HRMS.

Supported Employment in State Government

Supported Employment in State Government (SESG) is employment with customary salary and benefits for individuals who need unique tailored supports over time to maintain job performance. While the statute establishes that the SESG positions do not count against agencies allotted FTEs, an agency must have sufficient funds to pay for salary benefits. Common agencies who participate in support employment are Department Services for the Blind and Department of Social and Health Services. Supported Employment is entered into HRMS.


A volunteer freely gives their time and talents without expectation of pay. Volunteers serve on a part-time basis and do not displace regular employed workers or perform work that would otherwise be performed by regular employees.

Volunteers may be paid a stipend or nominal fee. However, if they are paid for their services beyond reimbursement for expenses, reasonable benefits or a nominal fee, they are employees and not volunteers. Volunteers are not entered into HRMS.


WorkFirst is Washington State’s program to assist recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to meet their goals and provide well-being for their family. WorkFirst is a collaborative effort with families, WorkFirst case managers, and local community and partner agencies to build a stable foundation for employment, provide employment and training opportunities, and ultimately serve as a gateway to financial independence. WorkFirst volunteers are not entered into HRMS.

Work Study

Washington State Work Study is financial aid for low- and middle-income students. Qualifying students get an approved job, on- or off-campus, to support their education. Work study builds students’ skills, increases their earnings, and reduces reliance on student loans. The state contributes to the wages of work study employees, so participating employers benefit from educated, motivated workers at a lower cost. Many employers hire work study employees on a permanent basis after graduation. Work study contributes to economic growth by creating jobs and adding experienced, high-skilled college graduates to the state’s workforce. Work Study students are entered into HRMS.

Staffing Companies

Staffing companies act as a middleman between employers and workers, helping to match qualified candidates with companies that have job openings. If you use a staffing company to fill a vacancy in a temporary capacity, the candidate will not be entered into HRMS. The staffing company will pay the wage directly to the candidate and the staffing company will bill you. The staffing company will conduct a background check, vaccination verification, and required legal forms on your behalf.

If you decide to hire the temporary employee permanently, they will then be entered into HRMS. Typically, if you hire the temporary employee permanently you pay a finders fee to the staffing company.