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.

For more detailed information, check out our full Ask HR Knowledge post.

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Melissa Gillespie
VP of HR Services at HR Knowledge
With over a decade of HR experience, Melissa brings to our clients a real-world perspective having held positions as a corporate HR manager and a consultant. Since 2010, Melissa has advised and worked with HR Knowledge’s clients in all areas of HR management, including workplace best practices, organizational enhancement, workforce training, performance measurement and compliance. She believes that a strong HR strategy improves a business’s productivity, quality and employee retention. Melissa’s commitment to service mirrors the culture and commitment that HR Knowledge strives to provide to our clients.

Prior to HR Knowledge, Melissa was most recently an independent HR Consultant. In this role, she was a trusted human resources advisor to small- and mid-sized organizations providing guidance, direction and advice about the application or interpretation of human resources and labor policies, as well as practices and procedures in a variety of areas related to human resource management.

Melissa is a certified human resource professional. She graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a concentration in Leadership. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and New England Human Resources Association (NEHRA).