Unpaid Internships – Are They Fair?

Unpaid internships offer students work experience before they graduate. In most cases, unpaid internships are included in college curriculums to enhance their educational experience. The experience that can be gained is great, but some argue that not being paid for labor is unfair. The federal Fair Labor Standards Acts states that employers must follow specific guidelines when hiring interns. Below are a few examples of what an internship should be like:


–          The internship should be an educational experience for the student. A student must be treated as if they were in training, and given the proper guidance.


–          Many employers view the intern as an employee there to assist their needs. However, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the internship is for the benefit of the student.


–          The intern is not an employee and should not be treated as such. Interns should remain under the close supervision of the current staff.


–          The employer may not receive immediate benefits from the intern. Work may be impeded, while the necessary training takes place.


–          At the end of the internship, the intern is not guaranteed future employment.


–          Both the intern and the employer need to understand that the intern is not entitled to any compensation.


If the six criteria mentioned are met, then an employment relationship does not exist between the employer and the intern. Interns are not entitled to minimum wage. Therefore, overtime provisions do not apply according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Interns should simply use the time to gain essential experience in the work environment.

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