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Q&A: What are the requirements for internships to be unpaid?

Question:

What are the requirements for internships to be unpaid?

Answer: Aimee, one of our HR Pros says…

The DOL uses the six factors below to evaluate whether a worker is an intern or an employee for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These six criteria must be applied when making this determination:

– The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
– The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
– The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
– The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
– The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded; and
– The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If all of these six conditions are met, a company may be able to classify the worker as an unpaid intern. Keep in mind, however, that this is a very high bar to meet. More often than not, the work done by an intern benefits the employer. Consequently, it’s often safest to simply pay minimum wage and overtime (if applicable) to interns.

 

 

Aimee is a recognized leader in the field of Human Resources. Aimee was previously the Global Director for the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. Previously, she was the HR Director and Global HR and Organizational Effectiveness Adviser for an international humanitarian relief and development organization and worked as an HR consultant to small and mid-sized companies.

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