Q&A with Tanya S. Bryant
Internships typically viewed as employment, earn minimum wage
Q: What are the current employment regulations as they apply to internships?
A: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal statute that requires employers to compensate covered, nonexempt individuals the federally mandated minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime for services performed for the employer. The FLSA defines the term employ very broadly as including to suffer or permit to work. Therefore, internships in the for-profit private sector will most often be viewed as employment, unless the following six criteria are met: The internship is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment; the internship is for the benefit of the intern; The intern doesn’t displace regular employees; the employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; the intern isn’t 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 these factors are met, there is no employment relationship under the FLSA, and the employer is not obligated to pay the individual wages and overtime.
Q: What can companies do to protect themselves from possible liabilities?