Lately, the news has been full of stories about successful lawsuits by unpaid interns whose main job was to get coffee and be messengers. The interns felt they received nothing of value, only the company name to put on their résumé. But before you cancel plans to hire an unpaid intern, know it is possible to design a program that complies with current laws and benefits those on both sides of the desk.
An internship program is supposed to be in the best interest of the student, as opposed to a way for you to pick up free help. The Department of Labor outlines the following six criteria that must be met:
1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational institution.
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern and is for a specific time period.
3. The intern does not displace a regular employee but works under close supervision of existing staff.
4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.
5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
6. Both parties understand the intern is not entitled to wages.