Must we pay an intern we plan to bring in?

Q. We plan on hiring a college intern later this year. Will we have to pay him or her?

A. Generally, yes, unless the internship is an educational program primarily for the benefit of the intern, as opposed to a situation where the intern is performing work that would otherwise have to be performed by a paid employee.  

The U.S. Department of Labor issued a fact sheet explaining the six factors it considers in assessing whether an intern is performing work for which he or she should be paid:

  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; on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If all six of the factors are met, then the intern is not considered an employee and does not need to be paid. If, on the other hand, one or more of the factors is not met, you should pay the intern.

Access the DOL fact sheet here

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