Internships offer the opportunity for young adults, college students especially, to gain valuable work experience in hopes of getting a job after graduation. But because jobs are scarce in many markets, the number of unpaid internships has increased.
According to a New York Times article, federal and state regulators are worried that more employers are illegally using unpaid internships for free labor. Officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers.
The U.S. Department of Labor has six criteria for employers that must be met for an unpaid internship to remain legal:
- The training must be similar to that offered in a vocational school.
- The training is for the benefit of the employee.
- The intern does not displace regular employees and works under close observation.
- The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and, in some cases, their operation might actually be impeded.
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship.
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern isn’t entitled to wages for their time spent in training.
Besides work experience, an internship can boost resumes, provide interaction with long-time employees and create the possibility of a job down the line.
Do you think it’s fair for employers to offer unpaid internships? Should there be stricter regulations on what is considered legal?