Regulations of Unpaid Internships
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor released a document clarifying the roles of for-profit employers and colleges in students’ unpaid internships. The document includes a six-part test from the Fair Labor Standards Act (which derives from a 1947 Supreme Court decision involving railroad-company trainees). If the following six factors are not met, then an employment relationship exists under the FLSA and minimum wage and overtime provisions must be given to the intern.
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
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
Internship supervisors across the country have acknowledged that some employers do see students as free labor, and welcome these recent clarifications as a good thing. However, these may make some employers weary to extend internships because they might them as risky. So with internship season fast approaching, know what the rules are—both these of the U.S.A. and Penn State’s. Make sure you get credit or see if you can’t finagle some dinero out of your internship.