Question:  We want to hire a summer intern.  Do we have to pay them?Answer

A business can provide unpaid internships for students receiving academic credit or completing a requirement for a vocational degree.  If the student is not receiving credit, he/she should be treated as an employee and paid at least minimum wage. (You also have the option to pay a learner’s wage during the first 160 hours of employment or 90 days, whichever comes first, which is 85% of minimum wage or $6.80.)

According to the Department of Labor, other criteria is required if you are not treating the intern as an employee and will not pay them a wage:

  • The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.
  • The training is for the benefit of the trainee.
  • The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation.
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded.
  • The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period.
  • The employer and the trainee understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.