Finding a job in today’s economy is not easy; however, it does not mean you should work for free. In order to get a foot in the door, many people work as interns. This work can provide employees valuable real world experience that could lead to future employment. In some industries, internships are seen as an essential first step to a successful career. But should you be paid while working as an intern?

That depends. In order for an employer not to pay its interns, the internship must be for the benefit of the intern, not the employer. The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued the following test to determine whether an internship may be unpaid. In order for the internship to be unpaid, all six of the following criteria must be met:

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training, which would be given in an educational environment;

2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

4. 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;

5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Unless all six of these factors are met, an employer must pay its interns and meet the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements.

If you believe that you should have been paid for your work as an intern, please contact Hawks Quindel at 608/257-0040 to speak with an experienced wage and hour attorney.

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Bill Parsons