Who remembers their first job as an intern at a professional office? It was exciting because it was new and took place in the “real world”. Interns are an asset. They bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a thirst to learn and succeed.
Our law firm receives many requests from individuals requesting paralegal and law school, student internships. These individuals request to work in our firm in order to gain experience and contacts within their new profession. These arrangements can be mutually beneficial and aid the individual in obtaining full time employment in their field.
However, recently unpaid college internships have come under fire for employer abuses. These abuses included interns that began working for an employer without pay with the understanding the intern would receive training and experience. Instead, in some cases the interns were subject to long hours with no training. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) addresses this problem. Under the FLSA, an intern must be paid a minimum wage and overtime if they are a “covered employee.” To determine whether an intern is a covered employee, the regulations issued by the Department of Labor look at the following factors:
- The extent to which the internship provides training similar to the training that would be given in an educational environment;
- The degree to which the internship experience benefits the intern rather than the employer;
- Whether the intern displaces regular employees;
- Whether the intern is closely supervised by existing staff;
- Whether the company derives immediate advantages from the intern’s activities;
- Whether the intern is entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- Whether the employer and the intern have reached an agreement that the intern is not entitled to wages for his/her work.
All of these factors are considered in making a determination. Under these factors however, it is likely that more often than not, an intern would be a “covered employee,” and thus entitled to pay. Remember that this may be the first job in his or her profession the intern in your office has had. Treat them with respect and pay them accordingly. If you have any questions, you can always reach Kelli Haas @ (615) 567-7304 or firstname.lastname@example.org