Are Interns Considered Employees Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act?

Covered and nonexempt individuals who are employed to work must be compensated under the FLSA for the services they perform for an employer. Internships in the “for-profit” sector most often will be viewed as employment unless the following criteria have been met:

  1. the internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. the internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. the intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. the employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. As you can see, this exclusion from the definition of employment is quite narrow because the FLSA’s definition of “employ” is very broad.

 

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