Many organizations use interns, especially student interns, during the summer months. While interns often are excited for the opportunity and agree to provide services for no pay, businesses must consider the wage and hour risks of such arrangements. Simply put, an individual’s agreement to work in an unpaid position now does not prevent him or her from seeking alleged unpaid wages later.
Unless specific conditions are met, a business usually is expected to provide an intern with at least minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay, if applicable. Federal and state departments of labor and private attorneys have become more aggressive in pursuing pay for interns in recent years, with several well-publicized collective/class actions filed during the past year. Employers with internship programs must analyze carefully the structure of their programs and the work performed by interns if they want to ensure such positions are unpaid.