Department of Labor Updates Internship Rules

By Kelsey Basten

Published on January 23, 2018

In early 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) released new rules for determining whether an individual classifies as an unpaid intern.

The new model is called the “primary beneficiary test,” which takes a more straightforward approach by asking, “who benefits from the relationship most, the employer or the intern?”

The test is based on seven rules:

  1. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
  2. The internship provides training similar to what would be given in an educational environment
  3. The extent the internship is tied to coursework or academic credit
  4. The extent the internship accommodates academic commitments according to the academic calendar
  5. The internship’s length provides the intern with beneficial learning
  6. The intern’s work complements, not displaces, the work of paid employees while still educating the intern
  7. The intern and employer understand the intern is not entitled to an offer for a paid job at the end of the internship

The DOL states these factors are flexible, so the final decision on whether the intern is an employee depends on the specific case.

If the intern is deemed an employee, he/she is eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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