Summer has arrived and for many California employers, that means summer internships. Internships can be a benefit to both the student and the employer, but if not approached properly, can land the employer in legal hot water.
Do we have to pay our company’s summer intern? Maybe.
6 factor internship test
If the internship does not meet each element of the six-factor test established by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the intern must be paid. The six-factor test is as follows:
- Is the internship similar to training given in an educational environment?
- Is the internship experience for the benefit of the intern?
- Does the intern work alongside regular employees (and not otherwise displace them) under close supervision of existing staff?
- Does the intern not provide the employer with any immediate advantages or services?
- Does the intern understand that they are not entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship?
- Do both the employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship?
Unless you can show that the internship meets all the above elements, you better pay that intern!
What’s an employer to do?
Given the increasing number of unpaid wages lawsuits being brought by employees, independent contractors, and interns, a California employer would be well advised to review their unpaid internship programs with the assistance of an experienced business attorney who can evaluate the policies against the DOL’s six-factor test. Merely drafting an agreement for the intern to sign stating that they are, in fact, an intern will not necessarily work, as an individual cannot waive the protections of the FLSA.
For more information about the issue of paid and unpaid interns in your workplace, contact business lawyer Drew E. Pomerance today.