Danielle M. Verderosa

Danielle M. Verderosa

President, HR Allies

College Intern? Or Unpaid Grunt Worker?

You don’t have to be a HR Compliance nerd like I am to spot the labor law violation in this picture, right?

I was yesterday’s years old when I first used an AI photo generator. Like any good HR professional, I asked for a picture of happy employees of varying ages, races, and genders, working in a restaurant’s kitchen.

I sure got exactly what I asked for! But I haven’t stopped laughing about the result.

Speaking of child labor laws, though, this is the perfect time of year for me to talk about your summer plans to hire college interns – specifically unpaid interns.

Lots of employers are surprised to learn that the  Department of Labor has a “test” to determine whether or not you are truly providing an internship experience for your college student … or whether you’re just hiring a seasonal employee who just happens to be on his college’s summer break.

The reason the DOL cares? They (quite reasonably) don’t want you hiring a worker for anything less than minimum wage just because you slapped an “Intern” label on them.

So what factors go into determining whether your college student meets the government’s “intern” criteria?

In general, it matters which party is the primary beneficiary of the experience. If the company is benefiting economically more than the college student is benefiting with his experiential learning, you probably can’t consider him an intern.

Other factors include whether the internship receives college credit or is a necessary part of their formal education; whether the work provides the intern with beneficial learning for a limited (not indefinite) period of time; and the extent to which the intern’s work complements instead of displaces the work of your paid employees.

Remember – this test is for anyone to whom you’re paying less than minimum wage like unpaid Interns.

As for me – I’m going back to the AI photo generator and ask it to put a 10″ chef’s knife in that child’s hands so I can keep laughing all week.

And if you need any assistance or have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at HR Allies!  You can email us here or even schedule a free 20-minute video or phone consultation by clicking here.  We’re here to support you every step of the way.

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