U.S. Department of Labor Reclassifying Interns as Employees
If you are using “interns,” they may be reclassified as “employees.”
Beware the U.S. Department of Labor is investigating and prosecuting small businesses, and David Letterman, for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime to interns. There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. The Supreme Court has held that the term “suffer or permit to work” cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction. This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.
The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
- 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;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- 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;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”), and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA’s definition of “employ” is very broad.
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Richard Lofgren has twenty eight years of legal experience working with businesses on the issues they face daily during their business cycles. Acting in the capacity of an outside general counsel, he helps business owners to make smarter decisions, build stronger relationships and make and save money.
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