Firms that offer unpaid internships may be in for a rude awakening in the near future.
Reason: The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division says it’s going after companies that don’t pay interns properly. And, according to the agency, that’s the vast majority of organizations.
DOL Wage and Hour Division Director Nancy J. Leppink says there are very few for-profit employers that can offer unpaid internships and stay in compliance with wage and hour laws.
So why is this all happening right now? Unpaid interns have historically been hesitant to file complaints because they didn’t want to hurt their chances of future employmenopportunities — and the DOL has decided to step in.
In addition to cracking down on offenders, the DOL is expanding its efforts to educate companies, college and students about laws regarding internships.
Unpaid interns must meet certain established criteria to comply with wage and hour laws, including:
- The internship must be similar to training that is provided in an academic or vocational setting
- The unpaid interns must not displace regular paid employees, and
- The organization must not receive an “immediate advantage” from an unpaid intern’s work.
Does your company offer unpaid internships? If so, how do you stay in compliance with wage and hour laws?