Unpaid Internship: Does Calling it an “Internship” Make any Difference?

Unpaid Internship

An increasingly common problem these days is employers hiring “interns” when in fact they should be paid workers.

For employers and interns out there, here’s a word of advice — calling a job an “internship” does not necessarily relieve an employer of the obligation to pay for the worker’s time.

An employer that wants to pay less than the minimum wage, or even nothing at all, to an intern must meet a strict six-part test, intended to ensure that the position really is a learning experience. If a job doesn’t meet this test, the person holding it is entitled to be paid.

Interns are supposed to be temporary workers, typically students or people who are new to the field, who take a position to learn what a job is like and get some experience. If an employer doesn’t pay an intern at least the minimum wage for each hour worked, the internship must meet a six-factor test created by the federal Department of Labor. The Department looks at the factors listed below to decide whether an internship is really a benefit to the intern or is actually benefiting the employer:

1. The internship must be similar to training that would be provided in an educational environment.
2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern.
3. The intern must not displace regular employees and must work under close supervision of existing staff.
4. The employer gets no immediate advantage from the intern’s work — and may, on occasion, find its operations impeded by the internship.
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job once the internship ends.
6. Both the employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for time spent in the internship.

David Payab, Esq. from The Law Offices of Payab & Associates can be reached @ (800) 401-4466 or by visiting http://payablaw.com/

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