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Should I pay my intern?

You may think it's a good idea to have an intern. After all, it's free labor - right? Well, not necessarily. Many employers offer internships to college students or young professionals looking to gain work experience. Generally, instead of wages, the company offers the intern "great experience" and an opportunity to work in the industry. While this may be true, there are legal implications for unpaid internships if they violate minimum wage laws. The Department of Labor indicates there are six factors that all must be met in order for an intern to be free from wage requirements (1). Employers who want to skip paying their interns should ensure all six factors are met.

  1. The internship is similar to that which would be given in an educational environment.

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

  3. The intern does not displace regular employees.

  4. The employer that provides the internship derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.

  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.

(1) U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division, Fact Sheet #71

Should I Pay My Intern by Lisa Sorce is marked with CC0 1.0

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