Unpaid Internships must Comply with Six Federal Requirements to Avoid Violating Wage and Hour Laws.
To have unpaid interns, employers must comply with six federal legal criteria. Three such criteria most often overlooked are: (1) internships must pertain to the training unpaid interns receive at their vocational schools, (2) employers must not receive immediate advantages by having such interns, and (3) unpaid interns must not displace paid workers. If any of these or the other three criteria are not satisfied, the intern will be considered an employee and they must be paid minimum wages and overtime. An official at the Labor Department has warned that there are few circumstances in which a for-profit employer can have an unpaid intern and still comply with the law.
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