Many college students look forward to the summer as an opportunity to gain
experience in the work place before getting their first “real job.”
One way to do this is to be hired as an unpaid intern at a company. Interns
agree to forego pay for in exchange for hands-on experience. However,
recent reports have detailed employers taking advantage of interns as a source of free labor.
In order to provide guidance regarding this growing problem, the Department
of Labor has just issued a
fact sheet detailing what constitutes an internship and when it is fair
not to pay interns.
To qualify as an unpaid internship the following criteria must be met:
• The training must be similar to that received in an educational
environment • The experience is for the benefit of the intern •
The intern isn’t taking the place of regular employees • The
employer isn’t deriving an immediate benefit from the intern, and
may in fact be slightly burdened • The intern is not entitled to
a job at the end of the internship • The intern understands that
he or she is not entitled to compensation
In most situations, internships at “for-profit” private sector
jobs are considered “employment” and subject to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA). Hence, if you work at a Georgia company as intern
and each of the 6 factors are not present, you may be entitled to
minimum wages and overtime. Under the FLSA, Georgia workers are entitled to $6.55/hour and overtime
at a rate of one and one-half your regular rate of pay for all hours in
excess of 40 hours in any workweek.
If your internship at a Georgia law firm or company consists of work such
as filing, assisting customers, or manual labor, you may be considered
an “employee” and entitled to receive pay.
Internships can provide a great learning experience and help equip students
with skills needed in the workplace. However, it’s possible your
“unpaid internship” may actually be considered a job –
entitling you to wages and overtime. For more information, please contact
The Buckley Law Firm, LLC, a Georgia law firm committed to fair employment.