With the summer coming, some companies are weighing the costs of summer help and may be considering unpaid interns. Generally speaking, interns in medical, legal, and HR industries should be paid, but there are some cases in which unpaid interns can be used.
These six conditions set forth by the Department of Labor (DOL) must all be consistently met to consider someone an unpaid intern:
- The training is similar to that which would be given in a place of learning.
- The training is for the benefit of the trainee.
- Employees are not displaced. Trainees work under close observation.
- The employer gets no immediate advantage and on occasion, may actually be impeded.
- The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at completion.
- The employer and the trainee understand that the training is unpaid.
The key factor is that the unpaid internship must be an educational experience designed for the intern's benefit; the company may not use the internship to its own benefit. For example, if the intern will be expected to do any routine filing, errands, administration, project assistance, or other tasks normally assigned to employees that help the company, he or she does not comply with the standards above and must be paid as a regular employee.
If in doubt, contact your Human Resources Consultant at Nextep. For more information, visit The Department of Labor's fact sheet regarding unpaid internships.