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DOL’s advice: Think twice before using interns as free labor

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in Compensation and Benefits,Hiring,Human Resources

by Dena B. Calo, Esq., and Michael Zoller, Genova, Burns & Giantomasi, Newark

Businesses are still skittish about adding to the payroll, and as we head into fall, it’s tempting to consider filling empty cubicles with young interns eager for work experience.

On paper, internships are good for everyone. Interns learn a business and make connections in organizations where they hope to one day get jobs. In turn, businesses pay nearly nothing for work that needs to be done.

However, the U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a fact sheet that casts that equation into doubt. Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act provides information to help businesses determine whether interns:

  • Are truly gaining an education and are appropriately unpaid
  • Or whether they are “employees” who must be paid minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the services they provide.

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