Curious about the legal (and ethical) standards for inviting someone to spend time at a for-profit private sector company without any monetary compensation, I did some research into unpaid internships. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division publishes a useful fact sheet – Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labors Standards Act (April 2010) [PDF].
Below are the six criteria they say must be applied for a for-profit private sector unpaid internship. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer – I do not know if this information is correct or current – and none of this should be construed as legal advice. Apply this information at your own risk, and before doing anything, consult your own lawyer.
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.