Over the years, many of you have asked us whether an intern may perform services at your company without compensation. The question takes on some urgency during this time of the year, when students on summer break want the experience of working in a corporate setting.

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a fact sheet on internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets forth a six-part test for determining whether a person may participate in an internship program without compensation. The factors are:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;  
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;  
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;  
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;  
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and  
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

The fact sheet is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

Please note that there is no requirement to complete an I-9 form for an unpaid intern. Under the employer sanctions law, an employer must complete the form I-9 when it hires any person to perform services in the United States in return for wages or other compensation.