Many college students look forward to the summer as an opportunity to gain experience in the work place before getting their first “real job.” One way to do this is to be hired as an unpaid intern at a company. Interns agree to forego pay for in exchange for hands-on experience. However, recent reports have detailed employers taking advantage of interns as a source of free labor.
In order to provide guidance regarding this growing problem, the Department of Labor has just issued a fact sheet detailing what constitutes an internship and when it is fair not to pay interns.
To qualify as an unpaid internship the following criteria must be met:
• The training must be similar to that received in an educational environment • The experience is for the benefit of the intern • The intern isn’t taking the place of regular employees • The employer isn’t deriving an immediate benefit from the intern, and may in fact be slightly burdened • The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship • The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to compensation
In most situations, internships at “for-profit” private sector jobs are considered “employment” and subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Hence, if you work at a Georgia company as intern and each of the 6 factors are not present, you may be entitled to minimum wages and overtime. Under the FLSA, Georgia workers are entitled to $6.55/hour and overtime at a rate of one and one-half your regular rate of pay for all hours in excess of 40 hours in any workweek.
If your internship at a Georgia law firm or company consists of work such as filing, assisting customers, or manual labor, you may be considered an “employee” and entitled to receive pay.
Internships can provide a great learning experience and help equip students with skills needed in the workplace. However, it’s possible your “unpaid internship” may actually be considered a job – entitling you to wages and overtime. For more information, please contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a Georgia law firm committed to fair employment.