Overview: Internships and other training programs can benefit employers in several ways. The most significant perhaps is the chance to observe the intern in action, which can help the employer to evaluate an intern's job fitness more deeply than a résumé, references and interviews ever could. Also, the experience that interns and trainees gain can help prepare them to contribute immediately once they start work, unlike other hires who may require on-the-job training.
Trainees and interns should be paid the minimum wage and overtime, as required for all employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), unless very strict criteria are met. Employers that wish to establish unpaid internships or training programs should carefully follow guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and be sure they are following any relevant state requirements, as well.
Trends: A prominent lawsuit involving unpaid interns who worked for the Fox Searchlight movie studio has brought national attention to the issue. Such litigation can sometimes inspire copycat lawsuits, so employers that engage unpaid interns or trainees should be prepared for the possibility of a court challenge.
Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect a Supreme Court ruling concerning an overtime exemption for auto dealership service advisors.
Updated to reflect changes in the test used by the US Department of Labor to determine whether interns are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
To better align with recent case law, eliminate unnecessary confusion among the regulated community, and provide increased flexibility to its investigators, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has rescinded its "six-factor test" for determining whether an intern qualifies as an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act in favor of the "primary beneficiary test."
In-depth review of the spectrum of Arizona employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Employee Classification.
Employment glossary definition of Volunteer.
HR guidance on complying with the FLSA requirements for trainees, volunteers and interns.