Ask HRK Summer Series: Do I have to pay my summer interns?

It’s that time of year again when college students seek summer internships. Many students want to offer their services for free to get their foot in the door and gain real-world experience. While it is not illegal to have unpaid interns, we caution employers about assuming an internship can be unpaid because of potential misclassification risk under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

To qualify for an unpaid internship, employers must be able to prove that they are providing bona fide training for which the intern will receive school credit. This can be tricky since requiring an intern to do scanning, filing, and too many administrative tasks is not considered training. We believe having unpaid interns is not worth the risk and recommend paying interns at least the state minimum wage, which is currently $11.00 per hour in Massachusetts.

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