Guidelines for Unpaid InternshipsIn addition, the U.S. Department of Labor has developed six new criteria that an employer must apply to determine whether an internship legally qualifies to work without compensation.
1. The employer and intern both clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. If compensation is implied or promised, the intern is then considered an employee. 2. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar training which would be given in an educational environment. 3. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern and their formal education, tying in integrated coursework or receipt of academic credit.
(U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division)
Assuming the internship qualifies under all seven factors as an unpaid internship, the FLSA does not consider an employment relationship to actually exist. Therefore, the intern no longer qualifies for the minimum wage and overtime requirements, under the law. Make sure you know your rights as an intern, so you don’t get taken advantage of. While there are many amazing employers out there, with wonderful internship opportunities, there are some employers that are either unaware of the laws or are willing to take advantage of students looking for work experience.