Unpaid Internships: Six Tips For Avoiding Minimum Wage Requirements

student unpaid internship frog-1339892_1920It’s summer intern hiring season. Can your interns be unpaid? If you pay them something, can you pay a small stipend that amounts to less than minimum wage?

Wage and hour laws dictate when a summer intern must be paid like a regular employee, with a required minimum wage and eligibility for overtime. Seasonal amusement and recreational establishments (such as summer camps or some amusement parks) may qualify for a special exemption, but this post is focused on more conventional year-round businesses.

Here are six tips for maintaining unpaid internship status:

  1. The internship should be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  2.  The internship experience should be for the primary benefit of the intern, not the company;
  3. The intern’s main role should not be to perform work that would otherwise be performed by a regular employee;
  4. The company gains no real advantage from the internship and, in some situations, regular operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern should not necessarily be entitled to a job after the internship;
  6. The intern should have a clear understanding, preferably in writing, that the internship is unpaid.

Some additional resources for properly maintaining the unpaid status of internships can be found below: