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Student internships have been used by employers for many years, but these arrangements may now be scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal and state agencies due to perceived abuses of various employment laws.
As a result, it behooves employers who engage interns, paid and unpaid, to review the rules applicable to these arrangements and ensure compliance with applicable wage and hour laws.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and comparable state wage and hour laws, non-exempt employees cannot work without pay, but must be paid at least the applicable minimum wage. One exception to this rule is the engagement of the student intern/trainee. In order to be deemed a true student intern/trainee, the individual must be working for his or her "own advantage," and all six elements of the following test must be satisfied. These standards apply to internships in for-profit, private sector businesses.