Topic of the Week Intern Rights
In today’s economy, internships are often a critical aspect of finding an entry-level position. More and more students are accepting internships to provide themselves with experience prior to applying for a full-time job. Almost a third of college students report working at an unpaid internship during their college years. Despite their popularity, interns face a lot of issues at their workplaces, like low or no pay, menial labor, and a lack of protections. It is important to know your rights as an intern to ensure you receive a meaningful and positive internship experience.
1. How do courts apply the factors in the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an internship is legally required to be paid?
Different courts can differ widely in how they apply the seven factors of the “primary beneficiary test”, explained in Question 1. This text is a flexible test, with no single factor deciding the case. Thus, whether an intern is an employee under the FLSA is decided based on the details of each specific case. Additionally, the factors listed apply to for-profit employers, and governmental and nonprofit organizations have more leeway to hire unpaid interns.
2. If I agreed to an internship, but feel like I am not the “primary beneficiary” of the internship, what does that mean?
If you do not meet the criteria to be an intern based on the “primary beneficiary test”, explained above, you are actually an employee. This means that you are entitled to both minimum wage and overtime pay, as well as other employeee rights and benefits.
3. How many hours can an employer require an intern to work?
If you are a paid intern, or an employee who is called an intern, you should be subject to overtime laws. If you are an unpaid intern, you have fewer protections from the law, and may be legally asked to work long hours. If you are an unpaid intern and are working long hours, you should assess the criteria for unpaid internships, explained in Question 1 above, to determine whether you should be classified as an employee. If you are not an employee, you could consider whether the long hours are worth the learning experience you are receiving.
Thought of the Week
"If the intern performs work that benefits the employer and that would otherwise be performed by a regular employee, it is unlikely to be an internship. If the intern performs work that primarily benefits the intern and does not do work that would otherwise be performed by an employee, it is more likely to be an internship. Interns are not a way to get free labor."
–Brandon Ruiz | Hennig, Ruiz & Singh
Weekly Comic by Jerry King
Blog of the Week
Top Five News Headlines
List of the Week
from Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal
Industries Where Staff Are Most Likely to Smoke Weed
- Service sector workers are the most likely to use marijuana when compared with those in other industries
- Construction trade and extraction employees in the U.S. were the second most likely to use the drug, followed by those working in entertainment, sports, media and communications.
- Workers were less likely to use marijuana if a company carried out alcohol and drug testing before hiring and during employment.