I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you have an unpaid intern, you better make sure you’ve hired them legally. The New York Times reported yesterday on two interns who are filing suit against the makers of the film “Black Swan”. According to The Times, Fox Searchlight Pictures “had the interns do menial work that should have been done by paid employees and did not provide them with the type of educational experience that labor rules require in order to exempt employers from paying interns. ”
Yes – gone are the days where we can have interns make pots of coffee and photocopy papers for FREE! Making coffee is hardly an educational experience. The law requires that interns be hired for training purposes only.
The US Department of Labor has 6 criteria for hiring unpaid interns. They are:
- The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction;
- The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
- The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;
- The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
- The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
The USDoL goes on to say that if a person meets all 6 criteria they are a “trainee.”
Unsure if you are doing this correctly? Talk with your CPA or attorney to help guide you in the right direction.