When it comes to hiring, or working as, an intern, there are a LOT of misconceptions floating around.
Most employers are confused about what their responsibilities are to their interns, and interns are confused as to what their rights are with the employer.
It can be very easy to violate federal laws when hiring unpaid interns. So let’s look at what the requirements are and how you can stay legal.
What the government says…
According to federal law, every employee in America must be paid at least the federal minimum wage.
The United States Department of Labor does allow for a few exceptions to that law though… and one of those exceptions is classifying an employee as an intern.
To legally classify an employee as an unpaid intern, 6 criteria must be met:
- The internship would be given in an educational environment.
- The internship work program is for the benefit of the intern.
- The intern works directly with the staff, but does not displace any regular employees.
- The intern’s activities cannot benefit the employer.
- You cannot promise the intern a job at the end of the internship.
- There is a mutual agreement between the employer and the intern stating it is an unpaid position.
When SHOULD you use unpaid interns…
You should only use unpaid interns if you are strictly giving back to the community by helping provide real-world experience in your field to someone that is getting into it.
Unpaid internships are designed SOLELY to benefit the intern, and require effort and sacrifice on the part of the employer. This can be rewarding, but you must make sure the intern meets all the criteria above.
When you SHOULD NOT use unpaid interns…
If you want an intern to help lighten the load for your employees without having to pay wages, you should NOT use an unpaid intern.
If you want an intern to replace an employee or to avoid hiring a new employee, you should NOT use an unpaid intern.
If you want to evaluate someone’s skill set, or train them, without paying them, you should NOT use an unpaid intern.
Get the facts…
To view the Department of Labor’s fact sheet, just click here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm
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