Summer Internships – When Does An “Unpaid Internship” Violate The Law?

As summer approaches and the recession continues many workers may consider taking an unpaid internship. Unpaid internships have many benefits for both employers and workers. They provide an opportunity for interns to learn skills, make connections and demonstrate their work ethic. Employers benefit by having eager workers assist them and receive training without having to pay.
However, the arrangement may also lead to exploitation. It is important for both workers and employers alike to understand what may be considered an unpaid internship and when an employer must provide proper compensation.

In order to clarify the rules, the Department of Labor has created an unpaid internship test that sets forth when workers must be paid. Generally, anyone making legitimate contributions to the workplace must be paid according to standard wage and hour laws.

The unpaid internship tests evaluates:

• If the training the intern will receive is similar to training he or she would receive in an academic environment;
• If the internship is for the benefit of the intern or the employer;
• If the intern is replacing an employee;
• If the company is deriving immediate advantage from the intern’s activities;
• If the intern entitled to full-time employment at the conclusion of the internship; and • If both the intern and employer understand this will be an uncompensated position.

If you are currently in an unpaid internship or have questions about accepting a position as an intern, please contact the dedicated Georgia employment rights lawyers Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP. At our Atlanta employment law firm, we are dedicated to ensuring workers receive all the compensation they are entitled to.