Unpaid Interns Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) does not require employers to pay wages to interns who receive training from an employer for their own personal benefit. The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has developed a list of criteria to be considered in determining whether an individual qualifies as an intern or is really an employee who must be paid under the FLSA.
For an individual to qualify as an intern, all of the following six criteria must be satisfied:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, must be similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience must be for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern must not displace regular employees, but instead must work under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training must not derive any immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern must not be necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern must both understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If all of these six criteria are satisfied, then no employment relationship exists, and the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA do not apply to the intern. See U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Fact Sheet #71.