Unpaid Intern and Volunteer Criteria
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act employers must pay employees for all work that is being performed. There is an exemption from the pay requirement for interns that involve the following criteria. The criteria examines intern-employer relationship to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the internship. If the intern is the main beneficiary of the relationship, he or she does not have to be paid.
- The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
- The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
- The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
- The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
- The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
- The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
- The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act employers must pay employees for all work that is being performed. There is an exemption from the pay requirement for volunteers at a nonprofit institution. The factors include:
- The nature of the entity that receives the services
- The receipt by the individual (or expectation thereof) of any benefits from those for whom the services are performed
- Whether the activity is less than a full-time occupation
- Whether regular employees are displaced
- Whether the services are offered freely without pressure or coercion, and
- Whether the services are of the kind typically associated with volunteer work.
If all factors are met, the individual will be considered a volunteer and not an employee under the Department of Labor's standards, which may change from time to time.