It’s officially summer; college and universities are on break, and many students are looking for seasonal employment and an opportunity to intern in the field of their interest. But, before you extend an offer to a great candidate for an unpaid internship, consider the Department of Labor (DOL) specifications.
The DOL has six specific and hard-to-meet criteria for when an employee can be classified as an unpaid intern. If the position doesn’t satisfy all six, the worker must be classified as a paid intern (or simply an employee). Before advertising for or hiring an unpaid intern, ensure the following:
- The internship 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 (on occasion its operations may actually be impeded);
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job after the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
While an unpaid intern would not affect your payroll processing, adding a new employee certainly would change your payroll processing! With the DOL, it is a more conservative approach to err on the side of a paid employee.