Internships can be a valuable experience for both the employer and intern. For those with little or no experience, unpaid internships can present an opportunity to acquire experience, skills, and recommendations for the future. Employers also have an opportunity to receive labor and especially small businesses or startups that do not have abundant resources can find this arrangement effective. In order to employ unpaid interns, employers must follow the six-factor test used by the DOL and the DLSE.
1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school or educational environment.
2. The training is for the benefit of the intern.
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close observation
4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of trainees or students, and, on occasion, the employer’s operations may be actually impeded.
5. The trainees or students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period
6. The employer and the trainees or students understand that the trainees or students are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
Therefore, the training and responsibilities should be similar to an educational environment. Making coffee and emptying the trash obviously violates this requirement. The intern should be learning a profession or vocation with supervision, training, and instruction from the company. If a regular employee is out sick or on vacation, you cannot give the intern any of their job duties. Many sales internships are required to be paid because if an unpaid intern secures a client for the business, that qualifies as an immediate benefit.
There should be a written agreement outlining that no job is guaranteed at the end of the internship. The employer should outline in the offer letter than the position is an unpaid internship and the estimated duration of the internship.