It’s common for Connecticut employers to bring on interns during summer months.
Did you know there are U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) designed to help companies determine if the nature of the work an individual is performing qualifies them as an unpaid intern or an actual employee?
The DOL has recently revised their rules on interns, seeking to focus increasingly on which party benefits most from the arrangement – the employer or the intern.
The new policy consists of a seven-part test (see below) that seeks to determine which party benefits most. Under the new guidelines, if your intern is judged to be the primary beneficiary of a job, they can legally perform that work without being paid.
For employers, it’s important to remember, if a summer hire in fact qualifies under federal rules as an employee – they then qualify for FLSA employee protections and benefits, such as a minimum wage and overtime pay.
Here are DOL’s seven factors to consider when determining intern status:
- 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.
What’s the bottom line on all of this information?
If you’ve brought on a young person for the summer of 2018 and the relationship you envision does in fact primarily benefit them in accordance with the DOL’s seven factors – it’s likely ok to hire them to do useful work as an unpaid intern.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and have questions about labor and employment law, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. Each of us has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment law and labor law and can help you with this complicated topic. Please contact us if we can help you.
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